Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rules and Rulers

2 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.
(Ecclesiastes 8:2-9, New King James Version)

Rules and Rulers

Because most of us do not live in a land ruled by a king or a dictator, we will look at this section of Ecclesiastes 8 from the perspective of rules and rulers. Why should we obey our rulers? Do they deserve obedience from us? Does that make any difference?

We are an independent people who do not like mandates thrown at us. As a result we often find ourselves choosing when or when not to obey the rules of our rulers, whether they be our government, state, or city. As a Christian, how should we view this? Can we pick and choose our times of obedience and still live faithfully before God?

The only mandate from God is that Christians must not obey authorities if they command us to disobey the Word of God. However, other than that, we must be careful to obey the advice given to us by Solomon.

“Keep the king’s commandment for the sake of your oath to God."

In other words, we are commanded to obey our rulers whether we like the rules or not as long as they do not cause us to disobey God's commandments.

As we continue through this passage, Solomon asks us, "Do we know the future? Do we know what will happen and when it will happen?"

No, we do not know the future; the future remains in the hands of God. Even our day of death is ordained by God; whether we are righteous or whether we are wicked, no one is released from the war of death. As you think of this, remember that this is true for the rulers as well as those under his rule.

Rules and rulers, then, are always subservient to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. On our day of death, it is Him to whom we must give an answer for our deeds while on earth, whether they be good or bad.

Let us, then, think carefully before we casually dismiss the rules and rulers placed over us. Our obedience to them is out of respect to God, for it is Him we serve above all!

God Bless You,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shining Face

1 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.
(Ecclesiastes 8:1, New King James Version)

Shining Face

When I think of a shining face, I think of a smiling face, with an added twinkle in the eye. What is there about a smile, that on a bad day, one's smile can lift our hearts from our own circumstances. We all love smiles. We will go to great ends to get a baby to smile, and when the baby does, the whole room lights up.

As a Christian, I think of the joy we experienced when we first believed: when we first understood the burden of sin that was lifted from us. We know there is no wisdom apart from God, so a truly wise man is a man who understands His relationship with God, and bathes in the blessings of that realization.

What happened to that joy? Where did it go? How quickly we can be consumed by the burdens and dreariness of every day life, so that it is hard to remember the joy. As Christians, that should not be the case.

Think of Daniel, who prayed in the morning, at noon, and at night. Given his responsibilities in a foreign kingdom, it would be easy to understand how easy it would be to forget the joy of God. Yet, no matter how busy he became, God was always first in his life. Even the threat of being thrown into the den of lions did not diminish his joy and faithfulness to God, his father.

Let us by the grace of God, find ourselves in prayer and meditation upon the Word of God each day. Then, let us share that joy with a shining face!

God Bless You,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Only Schemes

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 7:24-29, New King James Version)

Only Schemes

Our Scripture today from Ecclesiastes 7 is a rather sad commentary on the state of man. In Solomon's search for those who fear the Lord he was greatly disheartened.

Truly, this only I have found:
That God made man upright,
But they have sought out many schemes.

In our world of millions of churches, do you think the results would be similar? Considering the population of the world, do you think one in every thousand is a true believer? We have close to 7,000,000,000 people in our world today. According to Solomon's estimates that would leave about 7,000,000 true saints.

I would like to believe that there are certainly more believers than that in our world today. I believe that Christ's birth, death, and resurrection opened the world's understanding of God. In the early church's spread of the Gospel, continuing to this day, I hope the numbers would be much greater.

What about Solomon's view of women expressed in this passage. Are their women today who trap men with their snares and nets? Yes, we certainly cannot deny that. What about Solomon's inability to find one righteous woman in 1,000?

I do not have any concrete answers, but I would pose the question, considering that Solomon was the king of the land, and considering the position of women in that day, what type of women surrounded Solomon? We know, too, that Solomon had over 1,000 wives, and even more concubines, so obviously, the women he was exposed to in his lifetime were not the same as today's average woman.

I do not believe that the issue today is one of numbers, i.e. men versus women. We know that both men and women are called to Christ. We also know that in countries which have been strongly influenced by Christianity, the status of women has improved greatly. Women are no longer just property, relegated to the level of one's animals.

In conclusion, how thankful we must be when we see the great changes in mankind that have come about through the spread of the Gospel. We know that the times are evil, and yes, man often has only schemes. We know, too, that the end of time is near. By God's grace, let us use the precious time we have to spread the Gospel to those in our own little world.

As Jim Elliot, a Christian martyr, once said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

God Bless You,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wisdom Strengthens the Wise

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.
(Ecclesiastes 7:19-23, New King James Version)

Wisdom Strengthens the Wise

What do we learn from the wise? We learn that wisdom strengthens the wise more than 10 rulers of the city. Yet, even the wise are not without sin. Because we know this to be true, we should not be so easily offended if we hear others speak against us. Have we not done the same thing to other people?

Knowing all of this to be true, Solomon states,

All this I have proved by wisdom.
I said, “I will be wise”;
But it was far from me.

Remember, this statement comes from the man known as the wisest man who ever lived. What can we take away from this?

It is good for us to seek true wisdom, however we must understand that all of man's wisdom is tainted. Now we see through a glass darkly, but in heaven we shall see Christ face to face. Where, then, do we find true wisdom? True wisdom is never to be found anywhere on the face of this earth. True wisdom only comes from God.

How should this knowledge affect our everyday lives? All men and women should be humbled by God; no matter how wise or knowledgeable we become, we will always be deficient. Only in the Lord Jesus Christ can we even hope to develop a semblance of wisdom on this earth.

As a person who can easily be offended, I really appreciate Solomon's advice regarding people who speak against us. When you think of it, it is only pride that causes us to be offended. But, where is there room for pride when we stand before the Lord God of Hosts?

Let us pray that we may reach the point in our Christian journey that we may understand the words of Solomon: Wisdom strengthens the wise.

God Bless You,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


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.
(Ecclesiastes 7:15-18, New King James Version)


There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness,
And there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.

I know that we have all seen this same observation made by Solomon. Will living a just life grant us length of days? Will living a wicked life shorten our days? As I pondered this I came to understand that there is no formula for life with built in guarantees.

What does that mean? Does the manner in which we live make any difference? Solomon gives us some valuable insights into this dilemma. In essence, he tells us to live a life of balance.

16 Do not be overly righteous,
Nor be overly wise:
Why should you destroy yourself?

Solomon is not speaking of the righteousness of Christ; he is speaking of man's self righteousness. We have all met a person in life like this; perhaps it has been us! This person lives a model life, and is proud of his own righteousness. Usually this is also a person we are not able to correct because they will soon explain their perfection to us. Yes, we can see how a life lived like this would lead to destruction, or extreme unhappiness.

17 Do not be overly wicked,
Nor be foolish:
Why should you die before your time?

This is a little easier for us to understand. One who lives a life of wickedness usually has a short life expectancy. This may be due to the health hazards of a profligate living style, or it may be due to having one's life taken by one's enemies.

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.

What is the answer? We are to live a life of balance. How can we do that? Solomon simply states, For he who fears God will escape them all. That is the answer.

Let us pray that through our fear of God we will avoid a life of self-righteousness or wickedness, but rather live in the peace and joy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

God Bless You,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wisdom of the Wise

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.
Ecclesiastes 7:10-14, New King James Version)

Wisdom of the Wise

For wisdom is a defense . . . But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.

What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge? We have many people in the world with a great deal of knowledge. Does that mean that they are wise?

Wisdom deals with the application of one's knowledge, as well as an understanding of reality in life. What is reality? I answer that with two questions. Can there be any reality without the understanding of God? What is this world without God?

The wisdom of the wise comes from an understanding that man is not the center of the universe, or even his own universe or understanding of it. God, who created this world and keeps it spinning in space and habitable for humans is the One who is at the center of the universe.

As we understand this principle, we can accept the truth of Ecclesiastes 7:14.

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.

God has given to us a wonderful world to enjoy, but in the days of adversity we, as Christians, need to remember that both are appointed by the Lord. What a comfort! God allows adversity to come our way that we may grow closer to the Lord and learn to love the Lord our God more than anything this world can offer to us.

Pray for the wisdom of the wise. Enjoy the good things God has sent your way, but also accept the days of adversity as also coming from the Lord. Why? Because this world is not our home; we are just passing through until we reach our eternal home with God our Father.

May the Lord hasten the day!

God Bless You,

Friday, August 20, 2010

Heart of Fools

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.
(Ecclesiastes 7:7-9, New King James Version)

Heart of Fools

Have you ever heard the expression, "You are not paid to think; you are paid to do!"? That was the first thing that came to mind in reading Ecclesiastes 7:7. A man oppressed, will eventually give up trying to think or voice his own thoughts. Even worse, is the person who will claim or do anything for a bribe. God did not make us to be a non-person, governed by the whims of others.

Why do you suppose the writer says, "The end of a thing is better than the beginning," and then follows with, "The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."?

Being an impetuous person, it is often hard for me to wait until the end of a thing before making a wise decision. Yet, only in the end do we know the results. How lofty our pride can be, but patiently waiting shows greater wisdom.

Probably the most wise advice of all is found in Ecclesiastes 7:9.

Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.

In a day when anger supposedly shows strength of the spirit of independence, as Christians we realize that the opposite is true. The one who controls his spirit maintains his own identity and independence, as he is not swayed by thoughtless anger. As a matter of fact, anger is one of most widely used form of manipulation.

If you do not think that is true, watch a tiny baby. Yes, they cry when they are hungry or need to be changed, but it does not take them long to discover that their angry cry brings must faster results. Of course we expect that from a baby, but what happens when the "baby" never grows up? How many adults do you know who can easily manipulate those around them through their bursts of anger?

What, then, is the difference between the heart of the wise and the heart of fools? The wise do not accept bribes, are patient in waiting for the end of a matter, and do not allow their decisions to be ruled by anger. That sounds pretty good, does it not? I would really like to be that person, but it is not as easy as it sounds, is it?

Let us pray that as Christians God would so work in our hearts that we develop the heart of the wise rather than the heart of fools.

God Bless You,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

House of Mirth

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.
(Ecclesiastes 7:3-6, New King James Version)

House of Mirth

What is Solomon telling us in these four verses from Ecclesiastes 7? Is it wrong to laugh and have fun? I read through these verses several times asking myself the same question. I think the answer lies in the word, heart; heart is mentioned three times in verses 3 and 4.

*By a sad countenance the heart is made better.
*Heart of the wise
*Heart of fools

Christianity is a religion of the heart, not a religion of mere action. If the heart is not turned to God, the actions are irrelevant. Therefore the heart--the inner depths of a man's soul--is made better through times of sadness and grief than through times of laughter and mirth.

The heart of the wise understands this; laughter and fun is always tempered with the knowledge of the realities of life. Never, in the middle of laughter, should we forget the lessons we have learned during times of sadness and grief.

What of the heart of fools? In this case, the fool is the one who makes laughter in the house of mirth the end all of his life. His attitude is one of, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die." Rather than face the sadness and grief in life, he chooses to ignore it. His attitude is what I call the Scarlet O'Hara approach. I cannot face this today, I will think about it tomorrow. However, tomorrow never comes.

What are we to learn from these verses? Do not make the house of mirth the meaning of your life. Enjoy laughter, for it lifts the heart from the daily hum drum of life, but do so in temperance, always remembering the lessons learned from the days of sorrow and sadness.

God Bless You,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Good Name

1 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.
(Ecclesiastes 7:1-2, New King James Version)

A Good Name

What is in a name? How does one establish a good name? Having come from a small town of about 8,000, and now living in a town of about 5,000, I have a very good picture of the importance of having a good name.

For some reason, it seems as though people would easily believe something bad about a person than something good. It is almost as if they are waiting for a person to fall so that they can pounce upon them. Unfortunately, one bad experience can ruin a good name.

I am very careful in my treatment of piano students and their families, as one bad situation could ruin my reputation as a good teacher. As Christians, it is doubly important that we maintain a good name, as we are representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, Solomon does not stop here. What does he mean when he states:

And the day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth;
2 Better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,

We are a fun-loving society; there is nothing wrong with that, but how much deep-thinking do people do at a party? How much deep-thinking do people do in the house of mourning? In the house of mourning, we are much more likely to ponder the meaning of life, and our own shortness of life. We know that one day, we are the one who will be lying in that coffin. In terms of eternity, yes, the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting.

How can Solomon say that the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth? As Christians, that is not hard for us to understand. Even in the best of lives, life is filled with great sorrow, as well as frustration over the challenge of dealing with one's own sinful nature.

When we reach the day of our death, all sorrow and sadness will flee away, and we will be safe in the arms of our Lord for all eternity.

Yes, we can easily agree with Solomon in these verses.

A good name is better than precious ointment,
And the day of death than the day of one’s birth;

Go, this day, and live for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, for that is the true meaning of life!

God Bless You,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shadow of Life

7 All the labor of man is for his mouth,
And yet the soul is not satisfied.
8 For what more has the wise man than the fool?
What does the poor man have,
Who knows how to walk before the living?
9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.
This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
10 Whatever one is, he has been named already,
For it is known that he is man;
And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he.
11 Since there are many things that increase vanity,
How is man the better?
12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?
(Ecclesiastes 6:7-12, New King James Version)

Shadow of Life

In our day we find that most people worship the god of humanism. Because man is the center of the universe, his accomplishments are to be lauded above all other things. Yet, in Ecclesiastes 6, we learn that man exists in the shadow of life.

What does man really know? What does the rich man have that the poor man does not have? In view of all eternity, there is no difference. That is exactly the point that Solomon is making in these verses.

Does man really know what is good for him? Will he find peace and satisfaction in himself? Truly, man does not know what is good for him, and he will never find peace and satisfaction in himself.

In this shadow of life, man has one true purpose. Man is to know Christ, and to make Him known. Whatever we accomplish in this life is futile without the Lord. God has miraculously given His only Son to us, that we might have eternal life with Him. What earthly thing is more important than that?

This life in Christ changes us; instead of seeking after our own wants and desires, we seek to please the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ came to this earth to give us life, and to give it more abundantly.

Let us, this day, move from the shadow of life to the glorious light of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

God Bless You,

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Satisfied Soul

3 If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he— 4 for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. 5 Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice—but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?
(Ecclesiastes 6:3-6, New King James Version)

A Satisfied Soul

A satisfied soul is a soul that has seen goodness! We are given, in Ecclesiastes 6, an illustration of a man who has lived many years with a hundred descendants. He should be a happy man, right? The problem, however, is that in all of these years his soul was never satisfied with goodness. As a matter of fact, if he lived 2000 years and has not seen goodness, we are told that it would have been better if that man had never been born.

What a bleak picture; it would be better for people who have not seen goodness to have never been born. How do we see goodness? I am reminded of the words of Jesus from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke:

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

From these words of Jesus, we understand that there is nothing truly good except God. So, where do we find goodness? We only find goodness in God.

As Christians, we should take note of these words of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as these verses from Ecclesiastes 6. Often, it is hard to tell Christians apart from non-Christians, as they both seem to be rushing after the same things. If the only joy we experience is found in the things of this world, then we have never experienced true joy!

I would encourage us all to go to Christ and ask Him to help us to meditate upon the goodness of God. Only in Christ will we find true peace, joy, and happiness.

Only in God will we receive a satisfied soul!

God Bless You,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gifted in Vain

1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: 2 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction.
(Ecclesiastes 6:1-2, New King James Version)

Gifted in Vain

What a tragedy; Solomon speaks of a man who is gifted in vain. God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it.

Even in our day, we find that this is a common occurrence. What things could prevent a man from enjoying his own wealth? A man could be prevented through health difficulties, strife, grief, and the list goes on. Yet, others, even those not related to him (foreigners), find enjoyment in his wealth.

Whenever I read something like this, I am reminded that wealth, or even lack of it, should not be the reason for living a life in unhappiness and/or depression. Depression wreaks havoc in our world today? Why is that?

I am no doctor, and I know there are many clinical reasons for depression, yet I do believe that much unhappiness and depression is caused by lack of expectations. If we expect wealth, other people, or things to be sources of happiness, we will be sadly disappointed. No one else has the power to make us happy!

As a Christian, we understand that true peace and happiness are gifts from the Lord, which are totally unrelated to our wealth or lack of it. As a matter of fact, even people visited by untold grief or health issues, can find this same peace with the Lord. We may not be happy about our circumstances, but we know that the Lord never leaves nor forsakes us.

Perhaps that is the message God is teaching us in Ecclesiastes 6 through the words of Solomon. Amassing riches or things with the expectation that they will bring happiness and contentment, is a myth. That happiness may last for a season, but in time it will be replaced by emptiness and discouragement.

We are here for a reason; we have a God-given purpose for our very existence on this earth. As we seek to know and fulfill that purpose, we will find our very souls filled with happiness and contentment.

So, rather than being gifted in vain, let us pray that God will help us to use and employ all of the gifts He has given to us for His glory and honor, alone.

God Bless You,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Heritage from God

18 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.
(Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, New King James Version)

Heritage from God

Our verses today from Ecclesiastes 5 are a welcome change from Solomon's rather discouraging discourse on the emptiness of riches. One of the difficulties of working with a few verses from the Bible at a time, is that we sometimes must wait a few days for the summation or conclusion of the matter.

It is plain to see that Solomon does not discredit those who have riches. Rather he gives some timely advice on the proper attitude toward wealth. Wealth is to be seen as a heritage from God, which is to be enjoyed. As a matter of fact, work is not something that should be a drudgery to us; we should find great joy and satisfaction in all of our labor.

You may say, "Yeah, but you do not know my job. There is no way I enjoy working."

What should we do if we find ourselves in this situation? As Christians, we should see work as a blessing from God. In these days of high unemployment this is easier to understand. Even so, that does not mean that we need to be stuck in a job we despise.

Understanding that our abilities and interests are God-given and unique to ourselves, we should use them to guide us to a career that we would really enjoy. If we are at the point in life where we are still trying to determine a path to take in life or have the opportunity to make some changes, we should understand that wages are not the most important consideration in determining the right career for ourselves. Many people make good wages, but are miserable in their career field.

That being said, even in a miserable job, as Christians we can take joy in doing the best job we can for our employers. We also should pray that God would help us to enjoy what we do, and keep us from complaining about our employers or our bosses.

When working in a factory, I observed an employee who was being ridiculed for brown-nosing. She turned to her fellow employee and said, "I am just as frustrated as you over some of our employer's attitudes and requirements, but as a Christian I work hard to be pleasing to the Lord. He is the One I need to please."

So, let us remember that our wealth, whether great or little, is a heritage from God. Let us pray that God would help us to find great pleasure in the life we live so that we, too, can keep busy with the joy of our hearts in our heritage from God.

God Bless You,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Can Riches Hurt?

13 There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
Riches kept for their owner to his hurt.
14 But those riches perish through misfortune;
When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand.
15 As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return,
To go as he came;
And he shall take nothing from his labor
Which he may carry away in his hand.
16 And this also is a severe evil—
Just exactly as he came, so shall he go.
And what profit has he who has labored for the wind?
17 All his days he also eats in darkness,
And he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.

(Ecclesiastes 5:13-17, New King James Version)

Can Riches Hurt?

As Solomon continues his discourses on riches, he addresses the rich person who strives to keep his own riches. Can riches hurt? Yes!

The issue, again, is not the riches; riches do not have to hurt. The real issue is one's attitude toward riches. We perceive that this person accumulated riches just for the sake of accumulating riches. In essence, Solomon asks the question, "To what end did he accumulate these riches?"

Is this all he can give to his son? No! If we believe that the only responsibility in life is to provide financially for our children, we are missing the point. If we teach them that the accumulation of wealth is the true purpose of life, then we are introducing them to a life of emptiness.

Can he take these riches with him when he passes from this life? No! As he came into this world, naked, so shall he return at the end of his life.

It is interesting that Solomon calls this a severe evil! If a person has only labored for riches, then he has labored for the wind. He will find himself consumed in darkness, sorrow, sickness, and anger.

Can riches hurt? Yes, if obtaining riches is our only purpose in life, but life can be so much more. As Christians, understanding our true purpose in life and living to that end brings us much peace, satisfaction, and joy.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

God Bless You,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Profit?

10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.
This also is vanity.
11 When goods increase,
They increase who eat them;
So what profit have the owners
Except to see them with their eyes?
12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet,
Whether he eats little or much;
But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.
(Ecclesiastes 5:10-12, New King James Version)

What Profit?

It seems as though King Solomon is awfully hard on those who are rich in these verses from Ecclesiastes 5 when he asks, "What profit have the rich?" We must remember, however, that Solomon was the richest man in the world. He included himself in the category of the rich, and had an insight that most of us will never have.

First, he tells us that the one who loves silver will never be satisfied with silver. No matter how much one has, he always desires to have more. But, as he gets more, those who are of his household (servants, family, and friends) increase, so though he has more silver, he has more expenses as well. "What profit, then, is there in this?" he asks.

In comparison, how does King Solomon perceive the laboring man? The sleep of the laboring man is sweet, whether he has much or little to eat. The rich, however, never sleeps peacefully; he is too worried about keeping what he has as well as getting more.

Is it wrong to be rich? Though Solomon paints a rather dismal picture in these verses, he is not condemning riches. Rather, he is showing the propensity of the rich to never be satisfied though they attain more and more wealth. The difficulty, then, is one's attitude toward one's riches.

Of course it is not wrong to be rich? The question is, if God has given you riches, what is your attitude toward your wealth, and what do you do with your wealth? God uses his wealthy children to help supply the needs of the poor, as well as finance His ministry to the lost.

All, regardless of whether they have little or much, are commanded to cheerfully tithe their time, talents and treasures to the Lord.

What profit is there in wealth? The love of wealth, driven to seek more and more, will only bring vanity, or emptiness, to the wealthy. The use of one's wealth to build the kingdom of God will reap eternal rewards, and bring satisfaction to the heart and soul.

One last thought. The love of wealth or money is not just reserved for the rich. Even the poor can grasp after more and more wealth and possession, and experience the same emptiness.

This is good food for thought, is it not?

God Bless You,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Profit of the Land

9 Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field.
(Ecclesiastes 5:9, New King James Version)

Profit of the Land

What an interesting little verse tucked away in Ecclesiastes 5. Coming from the Midwest, the profit of the land is a very real thing to me. Just a few minutes from town, the roads are surrounded by corn, soybeans, and wheat fields.

We hear much about the cities, and rightly so, as they seem to be the lifeblood of the nations, but without the land bearing crops, where would the city be? As this verse tells us, even the king is served from the field.

What implications does this have for us as children of God? Often, if we do not have an executive position or career, we may feel as though we are a lesser person. Our lowly life is not really all that important. What if we are just a factory worker or a farmer? Does that mean that our job is less important and that our ministry for Christ is also less important?

Absolutely not! First of all, the executives--even the leaders of the nations, need the products produced in factories, and the food produced from the land. God made each person unique; one person is not worth more in the sight of God than another due to their financial situation.

What does matter to God? Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Every single Christian has a unique God-given ministry to fulfill. As Christians, it is our duty, even more, our joy to read and study God's Word that we may develop an even closer relationship with the Lord. As our hearts are bound to Christ, so God will use us wherever we are to be a testimony to the unsaved all around us.

The profit of the land is important to every person in a nation, and every person in a nation is important to that nation. So, too, every Christian is important to God.

Let us pray this day that, no matter what our career or occupation may be, we may be found faithful in the unique ministry that God has given to each one of us.

God Bless You,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oppression of the Poor

8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.
(Ecclesiastes 5:8, New King James Version)

Oppression of the Poor

In our day, do we see the oppression of the poor? Do we see violent perversion of justice? Yes, we see both, especially in reference to the greed of the rich. A few dollars filtered here and there, and righteous laws are perverted or overlooked.

As a matter of fact, we see this so often, that we almost expect it. Day after day we see the wickedness of this world increase so that we hardly wonder if there are any righteous left. Is it really any worse in our day than in the day of Solomon? Probably not! This is exactly what Solomon is addressing.

In can be very discouraging, can it not, when we are raising families to be good law abiding citizens? Yet, we are not to be discouraged. Why is that? Solomon reminds us that high officials watch over high officials, and higher officials are over them. Where does this end? The highest official in the land is still under the righteous hand of the greatest official of all, the Lord God of heaven and earth.

As Christians, we need to take comfort in that. Though it may seem as though this world is on a fast track to self destruction, that self destruction will never come apart from the hand of God. If that is what God has determined for our earth, then, yes, it will come. If it is not what God has determined, however, then it will not come to pass.

Does that make it God's fault? Absolutely not! Though we do not understand the ways of God, we know that He does not always choose to stay the hand of the wicked. We also know that a final day of reckoning will come when all men and women will stand before the throne of God. Those who have been guilty of oppression of the poor will face the Highest Official of all!

So, do not despair, but praise God for His wondrous works among the children of men.

God Bless You,

Monday, August 09, 2010

Tame the Tongue

1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.

2 Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.
3 For a dream comes through much activity,
And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
For He has no pleasure in fools.
Pay what you have vowed—
5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.

6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
(Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, New King James Version)

Tame the Tongue

This Bible passage from Ecclesiastes 5 sounds like it could come right out of the book of James, where we read:

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
(James 3:8, New King James Version)

How easy it is for us to speak of our love for the Lord and make vows to love and serve Him each day, but it is not always so easy to fulfill those vows when we are in the middle of life's daily struggles.

I cannot think of any more fitting advice than found in Ecclesiastes 5:2:

Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
Therefore let your words be few.

Yet, these are hard words to obey. How can we tame the tongue? Being impetuous people by nature, how quickly we can utter words that we find difficult to obey. It is better, we are told, that before the words even leave our mouths, we should remember that God is in heaven, but we are on earth. Rather that speak hastily, we should try to be quiet and listen.

Let us look to God to help and guide us this day to tame the tongue and let our words be few.

God Bless You,