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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ecclesiastes Part Two

For Ecclesiastes Part One.
For Ecclesiastes Part Three .

Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth. (Modern King James Version)

A good reputation is important. If your name is well known to be the name of a just and honest person then this verse tells us that is more valuable than a perfumed oil.

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more to be desired than great wealth, and to be respected is better than silver and gold.

The perfumed oil was an expensive extravagance in those days and it was often that the poor would purchase and keep it to anoint their body upon death as part of their burial. Wealthy people used perfumed oils all the time and it was indicative of their wealth. The odor of a perfumed oil was pleasant and could overcome the odor of humanity and death.

A godly character, a person who knows God and walks accordingly, attains a reputation which reflects on his God. For instance, a Christian who tries to walk the walk reflects the God of love and salvation that he believes in. But someone who calls himself a christian but lives an evil, sensual life reflects badly on the god he declares to follow. So many people are not true believers although they would describe themselves as christians. Just because you attended a protestant or catholic church while you were growing up, doesn't automatically make you a Christian. You may be a "cultural" christian but you are not a true convert, follower or believer in Jesus Christ. There are people who attend church on a regular basis but they aren't true converts because there has been no heart change, no real belief, no real faith. They may have been baptized as a sort of "initiation" but their heart was not really changed. There was no new spiritual birth. This is a sad thing because the unconverted person who declares they are christians will lead the life of an unsaved person and yet, they carry the label of "christian". It gives Christ and true Christians a bad name.

If you are proud of your family name, proud of your heritage, then you want everyone to know who you are. For instance, let's say that you are a descendant of one of the founding families in your town, or you are a descendant of one of the wealthy families in the state, or you are a descendent of a former President of the United States... you are proud of that and you like telling people these things. You also recognize the shame it would bring to your family and family's reputation if you disgraced them with your actions. Many families like to "hide their dirty laundry", so to speak. Or they talk about having "skeletons in the closet". All families have "black sheep" that disgrace the family. Face it, no family has an unblemished record. We are human after all. But we don't like to dwell on those things, we would rather talk about the famous, illustrious people in our lineage.

I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. Once we are born again, we have been spiritually born into the family of God. We are now His children. If we are true Christians (with a capital "C"), then we are members of the family of God. What higher name is there under Heaven? We are talking about the God of the universe, the ultimate, all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful Creator God. No other king on earth is higher than God. He is the King of Kings. No other government leader, warrior, actor/entertainer, rock star, wealthy man on earth is higher than Jehovah God. And we are now part of His family!

Romans 8:15-17 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father! (16) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. (17) And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.

Talk about having a good name! We should be ever more particular to reflect well on our excellent heritage. To disgrace the name of God by our own bad behavior is shameful indeed! Jesus Christ bought and paid for our salvation so that we could be children of God. How important it is to lead a blameless life, as much as we can? Why should we be the cause of someone thinking less of God and denigrating His Name!?!
Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Of course, there are many who willfully hate God no matter how good a Christian we try to be. There are many who will twist things upside down to make a good Christian look bad. There are those who will suffer persecution just because they are known to be Christians. There are those who suffer scorn because they are Christians. We are the butt of many jokes if not outright hatred and violence.
But, as much as it is up to us, we should try to be good examples of our God! We are called by His Name and therefore should try to live in that light. We should try to be good witnesses and give good testimony of what it is like to be a Christian. We don't want to be a bad example but, rather, a good example of what being a Christian is all about. We don't want to be reviled as hypocrites but pointed out as true followers! We cannot be perfect but we need to work on it daily. This doesn't mean keeping a long list of rules but rather, taking a daily inventory and checking our hearts and asking for forgiveness for our sins and asking God to help us overcome our sinful ways. Keeping our relationship with our Father fresh and ongoing is the best way to keep our feet on the right path.

Ecclesiates 7:2 It is 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 lay it to his heart. (Modern King James Version)

Ecc 7:2 It's better to go to a funeral than to attend a feast; funerals remind us that we all must die. (Contemporary English Version)

Ecc 7:2 It is better to go to a funeral than to a party, because everyone must die, and the living need to remember this. (Easy To Read Version)

Ecc 7:2 It is better to go to a home where there is mourning than to one where there is a party, because the living should always remind themselves that death is waiting for us all. (Good News Bible)

This sounds morbid doesn't it? A real downer! Instead of, "Let's party!" we should be looking for a funeral? But let's think carefully about this. To be frank, party-goers are going to whoop it up. They want noise, music, alcohol, drugs, sex. They don't want a single quiet moment to reflect or think. They want to push all thoughts of God, of their sins, of their coming eternity AWAY. Compartmentalizing. "Let's put those sad, scary thoughts in a box and hide it away and spend our time avoiding those things". Unfortunately, you can't keep putting off these things because one day it will come upon you unaware and you will step into eternity without having made your peace with God. You could strangle on that cup of coffee in your hand right now and die. You could get in your car tomorrow and have a wreck that ends it all. You could come down with cancer next year and be dead in a few months. Or you could die slowly in a rest home at a ripe old age. Some time, some where, you will die and you will face God. The only way to be saved is to truly accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and to be born again and to have a truly converted heart. Faith in Christ is the only way. If you put it off, you aren't automatically going to heaven. Salvation and heaven are not the default destinations of eternity. Hell is the default destination. You can't keep shoving these thoughts aside and putting it off until tomorrow because tomorrow may not come. And how many elderly people live long lives but their latter years are spent in dementia or with Alzheimmer's Disease. You may live to be 85 yrs old but you lost your mind somewhere along the age of 80 and you can't make a decision for Christ now. You kept putting off your decision for Christ and pushing it away and now your mind is gone. You had 80 years to accept Christ and to be born again but you wasted it thinking you would do it when you got older. Too late now.

Job 21:14-15 And they say to God, Depart from us; for we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways; (15) what is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit should we have if we pray to Him? (16a) Behold, their good is not in their hand;

Job 21:14-16 Those who are evil say to God All-Powerful, "Leave us alone! Don't bother us with your teachings. (15) What do we gain from praying and worshiping you? (16a) We succeeded all on our own." (Contemporary English Version)

And it's not God's fault. He gave you every chance. If you live in America, then there is a church on every corner, we have the protected freedom to attend church, Christian books are available, Bibles are affordable now and in every language and modern translation (there were centuries where Bibles were so expensive only the rich had one, or they were in ancient languages like Hebrew, Greek, Latin so that only the priviledged had the education to be able to read them) and we have free education to be able to read, Christian radio stations and TV programs are on around the clock... There is absolutely no excuse. Not only that but God has sent the Holy Spirit into this world to work on our hearts and lead us towards God. That longing you feel sometimes, where you think you want God but then you talk yourself out of it? That's the Holy Spirit working in your heart. Or that time when you went to a church and felt like you should walk down the aisle but you held yourself back? That was the Holy Spirit. Or that time, when Grandma died and you stood at her casket and wondered if she was in heaven and would you meet her there? That was the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing wrong with having a good time and when I have a "party", I don't mean some drunken orgy. We have parties at church and with our friends and families that are fun but not loud, drunken brawls. But, this verse means that it would be better to go to a funeral where you are face-to-face with mortality than to go to wild parties trying to escape the tete-a-tete (French for head-to-head or face-to-face) with God. Maybe, if someone you know dies, it will start you thinking about death and what it means to you. Maybe it will give you some time to wonder if you are saved and where you would spend eternity. Maybe it will scare you into the arms of God. A funeral can wake some people out of their ridiculous pursuit of hedonism and shake them up.


Ecclesiastes 7:3-4 Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the face 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 laughter. (Modern King James Version)

Ecc 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter; it may sadden your face, but it sharpens your understanding. (4) Someone who is always thinking about happiness is a fool. A wise person thinks about death. (Good News Bible)

There is nothing wrong with laughter and fun. Jesus, Himself, attended a wedding feast at the beginning of His ministry. But many times a happy face, a big smile, loud laughter is only a mask that covers a sin-soaked heart. A heart that is bleeding to death can be masked by frivolity and riotous living.

"Sorrow penetrates the heart, draws the thought upwards, purifies, transforms. Therefore is the heart of the wise in the house of sorrow; and, on the other hand, the heart of fools is in the house of joy, i.e., the impulse of their heart goes thither, there they feel themselves at home; a house of joy is one where there are continual feasts, or where there is at the time a revelling in joy." -Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary On The Old Testament

For Christians, it is good to spend quiet time in serious reflection, meditation and prayer. These are the times that our heart grows closer to God. Sometimes affliction is good for us because it gets our priorities straight. Sometimes bad things happen to cause us sorrow but we can take comfort from knowing that "all things work together for our good and according to His purpose". Good things can be wrought in us during hard, sorrowful times.

Romans 5:3-5 And not only this, but we glory in afflictions also, knowing that afflictions work out patience, (4) and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope. (5) And hope does not make us ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us. (Modern King James Version)

2 Corinthians 7:9-10 Now I am happy, not because you were made sad, but because your sorrow made you decide to change. That is what God wanted, so you were not hurt by us in any way. (10) The kind of sorrow God wants makes people decide to change their lives. This leads them to salvation, and we cannot be sorry for that. But the kind of sorrow the world has will bring death. (Easy-To-Read Version)

Ecclesiastes 7:5-6 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools. (6) For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool; this also is vanity. (Modern King James Version)

Ecclesiastes 7:5-6 It is better to be criticized by the wise than praised by the foolish. (6)The laughter of fools is such a waste. It is like thorns burning under a pot. The thorns burn so quickly that the pot does not get hot. (Easy-To-Read Version)

Proverbs 17:10 Smart people learn more from a single correction than fools learn from a hundred beatings. (Easy-To-Read Version)

A person who has godly wisdom can give you direction. They may have to confront you but it would be better to listen to their rebuke and change your ways because it can save you from much heartache. It makes me think of children playing in the yard. They don't know they could be run over by a car if they run into the street. The loving elders in the family are out in the yard with the children, the children running and playing, having a good time. But when they go near the street, the elders would be there to stop them. They stand in the way and say, "No, no, don't go out in the street." To the children, it's aggravating and they might think, "Why are those old fogies getting in our way? They are ruining our good time!" If the elders in the family didn't stop the children but let them go into the street, or worse, led them into the street themselves... disaster and death await.

Looking at it like this, we may be the ones who are heading towards disaster and those who are more spiritually mature may be the ones who are trying to stop us from getting hurt. Those who don't really care about us or who are as messed up as we are, would have us go our way or lead the way to disaster. Would we rather have the warning for our own good, even though it's aggravating or hurts our feelings? Or would we rather run right into disaster with no one trying to stop us? Fools would see our looming disaster and laugh as they urge us on. The wisdom of those spiritual mentors helps us. But the laughter of fools is worthless.


Ecclesiastes 7:7 Surely oppression makes a wise man mad; and a bribe destroys the heart. (Modern King James Version)

Ecc 7:7 Corruption makes fools of sensible people, and bribes can ruin you. (Contemporary English Version)

Ecc 7:7 Even the wise will forget their wisdom, if someone pays them enough. That money destroys their understanding. (Easy-To-Read Version)

There are basically two ways to render the understanding of this verse. It may mean that men who are normally "wise" can be corrupted with bribes and can become oppressors. If a wise man, in a high leadership position, exercises oppression, or practices extortion, he is foolish. You may gain wealth but it's dirty money and will never be blessed.

Psalm 62:10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them. (Modern King James Version)
Psa 62:10 Don't trust in violence or depend on dishonesty or rely on great wealth. (Contemporary English Version)

Or, this verse may mean “oppression” perpetrated by “fools” might tempt the “wise” to question God’s dispensations and doubt His Goodness.

Psalm 125:3 For the rod* of the wicked shall not rest on the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands to iniquity. (Modern King James Version)
* “Rod” - the staff, the scepter, the instrument of inflicting punishment - meaning dominion, power.

We can be oppressed into utter despair and give up on God. This is sinful. Understandable, but doubting God is sinful. It is not right to oppress people that harshly.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Modern King James Version)

Ecc 7:8 The end of a thing is better than its start, and a gentle spirit is better than pride. (Bible In Basic English)

Ecc 7:8 Something completed is better than something just begun; patience is better than too much pride. (Contemporary English Version)

When you begin something, there is always the wondering of how it will turn out, whether is will be completed, whether it will prosper, etc. You don't know yet, the future of your project and what will happen. For instance, when you begin building a house you have a goal of a nice home. But to get from the bare ground to the finishing touches of the house, is a long process and you wonder and worry about what will happen along the way. Will it pass inspection, will the foundation hold, will the plumbing sprout leaks, will you forget an important step, will someone steal the copper pipes one night, etc. You haven't learned patience yet because you haven't started the project yet.

Once you have completed a project, you can sigh in relief and look back with satisfaction. You've got that feeling of accomplishment and you have many stories to tell of how you made it through each obstacle. You learned patience along the way. You learned how God saw you through each step of the journey. It's a time to celebrate God's goodness!

Ecclesiates 7:9 Do not be hasty in your spirit to be angry; for anger rests in the bosom of fools. (Modern King James Version)

Ecc 7:9 Only fools get angry quickly and hold a grudge. (Contemporary English Version)
This doesn't need much explanation. Don't hasten, run to or rush to anger.

Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to be angry is better than a man of war, and he who has control over his spirit than he who takes a town. (Basic Bible English)

God is described as being "slow to anger".

Psalm 103:8 Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in mercy. (Modern King James Version)

We should be like God and be slow to anger. Don't have a bad temper or a hair trigger temper. Don't let it get out of control where you say and do things that you later regret. Use self-discipline to guard against anger. This doesn't mean you will never be angry, but don't dwell in anger, don't make foolish mistakes in anger. Don't let anger drive you to lose control where you are yelling, screaming, cursing, making sweeping statements, deliberately hurting others feelings, or using physical violence. We must be careful not to hurt our spouses, our children, our siblings, our parents, our friends or fellow Christians and we certainly don't want to act so out of control that we hurt the cause of Christ! I have seen pastors who have punched holes in the walls of the church out of anger. I have seen pastors say unkind things in such red faced anger that parishioners have fled the office in tears. I have seen pastors stand in a pulpit and bully his congregation (we call that preaching from a "bully pulpit") into doing what he thinks they should do. These things should not be. But, they shouldn't be in our lives either! As Christians we must learn to curb our temper and keep a tight hand of self-control over the harsher feelings that can come our way.

And holding a grudge is nothing but pride! You are, in essence, saying that you are right, they are wrong and come hell or high water, you will let them know that they are wrong! You will not give an inch. You stand on your moral high road and turn to stone there. Please, don't misunderstand me! If someone is sinning and refusing to give up their sin, then you have to take a loving stand. This means you tell them that they are heading to disaster and that you want to save them from this disaster. You do this in love not in anger. You do NOT follow them down the road to hell, you do NOT encourage them and pat them on the back on the way to hell, you do NOT enable them on the way to hell, you do NOT join them on the road to hell. You try to explain why it's wrong and what disaster they are courting and then they have to push past you to continue on their way to hell or, perchance, they will see the error of their ways and turn their lives around and you would have snatched one from the very flames of hell! But to get angry and have too much pride to try to make peace is wrong. Don't hold a grudge. That hurts you more than it hurts them. Even if you are right and they've done everything wrong, as a Christian, it's up to you to try to be a peacemaker. After the initial anger, you are called to be a peacemaker and not to dwell in anger.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and tumult and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (Modern King James Version)

Ecclesiastes 7:10 Do not say, Why was it that the former days were better than these? For you do not ask wisely in regard to this. (Modern King James Version)

"Oh, for the good ole days." I've heard that many times haven't you? But, if you really think about it, there never were any "good ole days". Evil, wickedness, hardness of heart, meanness, corruption have always been with us. We are human beings and, unless we are saved, we can't be expected to be good people. Yes, there are some people who aren't saved who seem to be nice people but they aren't sinless. Not one of us, as human beings, with an in-born evil nature, can be perfect and therefore we cannot save ourselves. We are all doomed to hell for our sins. But, thank God for Jesus Christ who died to save us from our sins. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and believe what He did on the cross saved us, then we are saved!!!! That doesn't mean we are suddenly perfect and behave. We still have our human nature to contend with, but we are saved.

So, the history of mankind has no period of perfection except before the Fall in the Garden of Eden. But our memories grow rosy over time.

Let's look at the Israelites. They lived in horrible oppression in Egypt. They had been made slaves, they were relegated to being the lowest on the totem pole of Egyptian society. They lived in the poorest parts of town. They had the worst jobs and were certainly not appreciated or paid for their hard work... they were slaves! Then, the Egyptian Pharoah became afraid of them, because they were increasing in numbers. So he ordered the midwives to kill the boy babies when they were born. Now, let's fast forward to after The Exodus. God had used Moses and Aaron to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea and into the wilderness beyond. After all the miracles God had performed up to this point, they finally had time to take a break and process all that was happening to them. And, you know what? They began to complain!

Exodus 16:2-3 There in the desert they started complaining to Moses and Aaron, (3) "We wish the LORD had killed us in Egypt. When we lived there, we could at least sit down and eat all the bread and meat we wanted. But you have brought us out here into this desert, where we are going to starve."

They had a case of "the good ole days", didn't they? And it didn't stop there. Every time God would provide for them, they barely got the praise out of their mouths before they would start complaining about something else. They were pretty ungrateful for all God had done for them. They couldn't seem to trust Him to take care of their needs and desires.

But, before we become to judgmental, how often do we get a case of "the good ole days" when we look lovingly back on the past in order to complain about the present? I've done it so often myself. "Back in our day we had to walk through the snow 5 miles one way to get to school and kids today take school buses for granted;" or, "Back in the old days we rode in unairconditioned buses without seat belts and sometimes standing up, but kids nowadays take their air conditioned school buses for granted." I guess the next generation will be saying, "Back in our days we had to ride in air conditioned buses and it would take 30 mins to get to school, but kids nowadays take their flying buses for granted and they get to school in 5 mins!" LOL!

Let's be careful about painting too rosy of a picture on the past. Evil has been done under the sun since the Fall of Adam and Eve. It's no worse today than it was then and it's no worse then than it is today. The only thing that might be worse is the fact that there are more people populating the world today so there is more evil done because there are more humans. And, technology makes us able hurt more people. But humans are humans and we can be evil. Whether using a sword, an iron cannon or, a nuclear weapon, it's still the same evil nature behind it. So be realistic. There is nothing new under the sun, evil has been done and will continue to be done until the time is right for God to bring judgement and Christ returns!

And let's not fall into the sin of being ungrateful. Someone recently asked what time period in human history did I wish I was born in? I can honestly say that I'm glad I was born when I was. Any earlier and I would have died several times of health concerns. I love history and I would love to go back in time to see certain times, but I would never want to live in any other time. God has brought us a long way. Miracles upon miracles have been done in our time which has made our lives so much easier. I think of the miracle of the American Revolution, of the miracle of the slaves being set free, of the miracle of WWI and WWII being won, or the technological miracles that have saved so many lives... no I don't want to go back. God has been good to us and I don't want to go back to Egypt! I'm thankful to God for what He has seen us through! I'm thankful that He has provided the miracles that Americans take for granted. I don't want to be ungrateful. And I want to use these miracles God has provided in the right way. I don't want to use the miracle of my computer to look up pornography! I don't want to use the miracle of my car to drive to adulterous assignations! I don't want to use the miracle of my kitchen appliances to cook up crystal meth!

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 Wisdom is good with an inheritance; but it is gain to those who see the sun. (12) For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense; but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it. (Modern King James Version)

Ecc 7:11-12 Having wisdom is better than an inheritance. (12) Wisdom will protect you just like money; knowledge with good sense will lead you to life. (Contemporary English Version)

Ecc 7:11-12 Wisdom is better if you also have property. Wise people will get more than enough wealth. (12) Wisdom and money can protect you. But knowledge gained through wisdom is even better--it can save your life. (Easy-To-Read Version)

Ecc 7:11-12 Everyone who lives ought to be wise; it is as good as receiving an inheritance (12) and will give you as much security as money can. Wisdom keeps you safe---this is the advantage of knowledge. (Good News Bible)

Ecc 7:11-12 Wisdom is good with an inheritance; yea, a gain to those who see the sun. (12) For wisdom is in a shadow; and silver is in a shadow; but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it. (Literal Translation of the Bible)

Wisdom is good with an inheritance"; "Wise; it is as good as receiving an inheritance"; "Wisdom is better if you also have property"; "Wisdom is better than an inheritance"; "Wisdom is good with an inheritance". That first line is interpreted slightly different in each of the translations. The difference is minimal. You get the same idea... godly wisdom is to be treated as more valuable than inherited property and wisdom is needed to correctly handle any inherited property. Godly wisdom is the most important and valuable asset a person can have!

Phillippians 3:8 Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ (Contemporary English Version)

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Charge the rich in the present age not to be high-minded, nor to set hope on the uncertainty of riches, but in the living God, the One offering to us richly all things for enjoyment; (18) to do good, to be rich in good works, to be ready to share, generous, (19) treasuring away for themselves a good foundation for the coming age, that they may lay hold on everlasting life. (Literal Translation of the Bible)

"Wealth will not lengthen out the natural life; but true wisdom will give spiritual life, and strengthen men for services under their sufferings." - Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

"Money is the means of supporting our animal life: but wisdom - the religion of the true God - gives life to them that have it. Money cannot procure the favor of God, nor give life to the soul." - Adam Clark's Commentary

He who possesses wisdom and money, finds himself in a shadow, i.e., shade of pleasant security. Shade from the sun of adversity. Wisdom and money shields one in adversity; but money is more fleeting and cannot be depended on especially in spiritual matters. It is singularly unwise to depend on money.

Not everyone can have money and wealth but everyone can have godly wisdom. Godly wisdom is available to all who will search for it.

Ecclesiastes 7:13 Consider the work of God; for who can make straight what He has made crooked? (Modern King James Version)

"Consider the work of God" means to think on, observe, recognize the work of God.

Man cannot change what God wills. We may not understand it ("crooked") but we cannot change it. It is for us to trust that He means it all for our good.

"the course of events which God orders and controls. It comprises both events which are 'straight,' i. e., in accordance with our expectation, and events which are 'crooked,' i. e., which by their seeming inequality baffle our comprehension." -Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible


Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity take note that God also has set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him. (Modern King James Version)

Ecc 7:14 When life is good, enjoy it. But when life is hard, remember that God gives us good times and hard times. And no one knows what will happen in the future. (Easy-To-Read Version)

God is the one in control! It's not us! God knows all things and has the power to run this world. I don't! So I enjoy the good times and am thankful for them. But when bad times inevitably come, I must trust that He knows what He is doing and He is doing all things for my good! We don't know all the variables involved or what the future holds. And we need to go through adversity and trials in order to learn how God can get us through and learn how to trust in Him. If we never experience tribulations then we never see God's deliverance and thus we do not learn how to trust Him. Our life is a school and we must learn things through the good times and the bad.

"God hath constituted the vicissitude of prosperity and adversity in such a way that no man can forecast the events that shall follow." -Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

If we knew the future, we would try to change it wouldn't we? For instance, let's say I had a child and I knew that when he turned 6 yrs old, he would fall off the couch and bump his head and I would have to rush him to the hospital. Knowing that, I would try to control the situation. I would decide that it would be better if my son didn't fall off the couch and bump his head. I would put pillows on the floor around the couch on that day. Maybe I would avert the bumped head and save us a trip to the hospital. But what if the plan had been that while we were at the hospital, I would meet someone in the next cubicle who was dying and needed to be led to the Lord. If I averted the bumped head, I wouldn't be in the hospital ER leading that person to the Lord! We don't know all these things and we can't and shouldn't try to control everything. My attempts to control everything shows my lack of trust in the Lord and my prideful trust in myself.


Ecclesiates 7:15-20 All things I have seen in the days of my vanity; there is a just one who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked one who prolongs life in his wickedness. (16) Do not be righteous overmuch, neither make yourself overwise; why destroy yourself? (17) Do not be very wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? (18) It is good that you should take hold of this; yea, also from this do not withdraw your hand; for he who fears God shall come forth from all of them. (19) Wisdom makes the wise stronger than ten mighty ones who are in the city. (20) For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin. (Modern King James Version)

King Solomon makes an observation here. He has seen the righteous and the unrighteous perish. He has seen the righteous and the unrighteous live long lives. It seems unfair to King Solomon. He obviously thinks that the righteous should have nice long lives and the wicked should perish quickly.

I guess I'm glad that King Solomon is not God! I was born with a wicked human nature and God had every right to judge me and send me straight to hell. But God was patient with me and He knew that I would become a believer and be saved. In my wickedness, He could have cut me off at the knees. But He waited on me and now I'm saved! There are many who are wicked and who will never accept Christ as their Savior. God knows them too. But He sent His Holy Spirit to work in this world of hardened hearts and He is giving the Holy Spirit time to do the work and to reap the souls of those who will become believers and true followers! How thankful I am for this merciful God who loves us so much that He is willing to wait until the last one comes home!

To see a good Christian die is a sad thing. But if we could look beyond, we would see the glory they are entering in and our hearts can be comforted and we can even be joyous! We will miss them but only for a time. To see a wicked and unsaved person die is a horrible thing for they are going to everlasting torment in hell. I would not wish that on my worst enemy! That's why I never use the expletives, "Go to hell" or "God damn". God may mercifully give the sinner more time so they will hopefully turn to Him. But only God knows whether that will happen. We do not know and it isn't our place to judge.

King Solomon goes on to say that it's wrong to act "holier than thou" when it's not a true Christ-bought righteousness. If it's a show, an ostentation of righteousness, then it's worthless. It's better not to draw attention to yourself if it's not real. Do not boast too much of your own justice and wisdom. Do not pretend to abundance of wisdom. There are people who aren't truly Christians and yet, they love to go to church and pretend to be so wise. They have not had the heart conversion and they do not know Jesus Christ or have the Holy Spirit in them but they want to appear to be the wise ones and dole out the advice and make zealous judgements. If you are not converted then it's best not to overdo the religiosity.

If you are a true Christian and have been converted, then be careful not to run into extremes that get you in trouble and cause you to sin. For instance, I have to think of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. I think they probably all started out believing God but somewhere along the way they got into some serious error and were led into terrible sin. Guard yourselves from falling into some extreme, un-Biblical teachings and be careful and study the scriptures for yourself.

Then Solomon says to not be so wicked as to provoke God to judgement early!

"Be not so foolish (answering antithetically to 'over wise,' Ecc 7:16), as to run to such excess of riot, that God will be provoked to cut off prematurely thy day of grace (Rom 2:5). The precept is addressed to a sinner. Beware of aggravating thy sin, so as to make thy case desperate." -Jamieson, Faussett and Brown Commentary

Romans 2:5 But you are stubborn and refuse to turn to God. So you are making things even worse for yourselves on that day when he will show how angry he is and will judge the world with fairness. (Contemporary English Version)


Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 Don't listen to everything that everyone says, or you might hear your servant cursing you. (22) Haven't you cursed many others?

This includes speaking evil of. I will never forget when I was working the switchboard one day. We were having a new telephone system installed and it was doing all kinds of kooky things. Part of my job included learning the new telephone system and being in charge of programming it. I was working the switchboard so I could see how it was working. Anyway, a woman called in to talk to her husband and I tried to send her call to him. Unfortunately, the call got put on the speaker system and it was on throughout the building from back to front! She thought she was waiting to speak to her husband and yet, she was live over the intercom! Thankfully, she didn't say anything embarrassing but how awful would it have been if she thought she was on hold and made some embarrassing comment! We need to keep our conversation clean of all cursing, gossip, rude comments, ugly tones of voice. What if someone were listening to you? What if your voice was on a public speaker for all to hear? Would you be embarrassed? We must realize that God hears all our words and He hears our tone of voice and sees our body language. So what are we communicating? Are we shouting at our children, being bad tempered with our spouse, uttering a curse word under our breath, gossiping about the neighbors? OUCH! God is stepping on my toes with this scripture! I have a lot to ask forgiveness for! And it's not just our mouths that get us in trouble. What about the body language and the tone of voice. You can say, "I love you" in a mean voice or holding a gun and the words are worthless. You can say the right words but in such a way as to scare, hurt and damage others just by your body language and tone of voice. Then there is texting, instant messages, emails, blogs, snail mail letters, etc. that are also ways of communicating. We must learn how to communicate without the name calling, hateful voice, gossip, slander, evil speaking, rudeness, curses. All the ways that we communicate should be in ways that edify others and not in ways that damage others. If we knowingly hurt someone's feelings by what we say, we should apologize and try to do better. If we've been hurt by something someone has said, we should try to forgive and put it out of our minds. Many times it's just miscommunication. It wasn't meant to be hurtful to you but somehow it came out that way or you interpreted it that way. When my feelings are hurt it's very difficult to get over it. But it's healthy for me to forgive and leave it in the past. Otherwise I can carry that hurt and let it continue to damage me. That doesn't do me any good.

James 1:26 If anyone thinks to be religious among you, yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is vain. (Modern King James Version)

James 1:26 If you think you are being religious, but can't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and everything you do is useless. (Contemporary English Version)

Jas 3:2-10 For in many things we all offend. If anyone does not offend in word, the same is a full-grown man, able also to bridle the whole body. (3) Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, so that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body. (4) Behold also the ships being so great, and driven by fierce winds, yet they are turned about with a very small rudder, where the impulse of him steering desires. (5) Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. Behold how little a fire kindles how large a forest! (6) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. So the tongue is set among our members, spotting all the body and inflaming the course of nature, and being inflamed by hell. (7) For every kind of animals, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of sea-animals, is tamed, and has been tamed by mankind. (8) But no one can tame the tongue, it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (9) By this we bless God, even the Father. And by this we curse men, who have come into being according to the image of God. (10) Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (Modern King James Version)

James 3:2-9 All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body. (3) By putting a bit into the mouth of a horse, we can turn the horse in different directions. (4) It takes strong winds to move a large sailing ship, but the captain uses only a small rudder to make it go in any direction. (5) Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things. It takes only a spark to start a forest fire! (6) The tongue is like a spark. It is an evil power that dirties the rest of the body and sets a person's entire life on fire with flames that come from hell itself. (7) All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures can be tamed and have been tamed. (8) But our tongues get out of control. They are restless and evil, and always spreading deadly poison. (9) My dear friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn't right. (Contemporary English Version)

Haven't you ever overheard someone gossiping about you or calling you names? I have and it hurts. Your feelings are so hurt and your heart hurts. It's a terrible feeling. Don't participate in gossip, dirty jokes, cursing, name calling, etc. When it gets started around you, walk away. There is an old saying, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." I need to remember this. I need to keep my mouth from uttering despicable things. I need to stop participating in talk that would be unpleasing to God. I need to work hard on my communication and conversation. I need to bridle and control my tongue. This message is not just for you. This is one of my weaknesses too.

Unfortunately we are surrounded by dirty talk. On TV there are constant curses, constant sexual innuendos (heck, it's not an innuendo any more, they just lay it all out there without any attempts at covering their filth), dirty jokes, backstabbing is funny... Gossip is encouraged and the worse it is, the better they like it. For instance, all those reality TV shows where they get the contestants alone to make comments on their rivals or co-conspirators. Then there are the people around us, in our every day lives, that are cursing and using a potty mouth or gossiping and talking mean. When this is all you hear, it gets harder and harder to keep your own mouth clean. When every other word is a curse word, you have a problem. When you can't call a woman anything but a disgusting word (skank, ho, whore, etc) then you have a problem. You are demeaning, denigrating a fellow human being. You aren't showing respect for a fellow human being.

When you shout at the service person at the local drivethru because they didn't get your hamburger right, then you have a problem. My nephew works in a fast food restaurant and has for years. The stories he has told about how awful people behave is unbelievable. He's been spit on, cursed, grabbed by the collar, shouted at, lunged at, called names and it's been over silly things like a $.50 coupon, a hamburger got left out, they thought the coffee wasn't hot enough, etc. If he reacts or defends himself in any way, he loses his job. They have to call the police to take care of it and try to fend off the irate person until the police get there. One time a woman wanted to use a coupon for a free drink. It was going to take some time because the drink had to be made and she was not happy about waiting. She pulled over, got out of the car, went inside and demanded money back. Since she hadn't paid anything (she was going to use the coupon for a free drink) they refused to give her any money but she continued to have such a fit the manager called the police and the police had to SUBDUE her, handcuff her and haul her to jail. Over a FREE drink! This woman has an anger problem. Something is not right in her heart and life for her to so overreact about a drink. And out of her heart she spewed her anger through her mouth with filthy language, screaming, fighting and lunging. All that communicated to the world what a mess she is inside! All those who witnessed her hissy fit saw what she really was inside. She should have been embarrassed and ashamed that this was in her to come out on an innocent person. On movies and TV now, people openly vomit. I don't know why the producers think we want to see people vomitting. It seems to be quite the trend nowadays. (So is going to the bathroom, like everyone wants to see men peeing in urinals or women sitting on commodes!?!) When you vomit, you are spewing forth the crap in your stomach. It's not pretty, it stinks and certainly no one wants to clean up after it happens. If you've ever had the misfortune to do this in public it is highly embarrassing. But usually, that is not something you have control over. It just happens. You don't want it to happen, you will try to hold it back, you will try to hide it, you clean behind yourself if you are able. But the woman at the fast food restaurant was verbally vomitting. Out of her inner most being came the shameful, sinful stuff she has inside. It stinks, it's disgusting and no one wants to witness such a sight. She should have been embarrassed and ashamed that others had to see her verbal vomit. All the anger that was twisted up inside of her was coming out. All the hatred erupted out of her. All the sin that poisons her system, spewed out of her mouth. Like molten lava spewing, oozing, flowing out of a volcano. It destroys everything in it's path and so does all the hateful words she said. Fortunately, my nephew is a Christian and he's usually able to handle all the rudeness and hatefulness of the public who comes through a fast food restaurant. Sometimes it gets to him but, I'm very proud to say, that he rarely retaliates in kind. It would be so tempting to do something to get them back but that isn't the way he operates on a normal basis and he gets my respect for that.

Now, let's reverse the situation. What if I'm driving through at the fast food restaurant and I ask for a cup of decaf coffee. Then I hear, over the speaker, the service person say, "I'll fix this stupid woman, I'll give her real coffee instead. I bet she won't even know the difference. I'm sick and tired of catering to whiny white b**ches like her." They hadn't turned off their microphone. How would you feel? How would you react? I could be angry, call for the manager and pitch a hissy fit. I could get my feelings hurt and drive off leaving him with the coffee. I could shout some names as I drove off giving him the finger. I could avoid the restaurant for the rest of my life. All those are choices I have at that precise moment. The best thing would be to say a prayer and ask God to heal my heart and to work in the service person's life. Drive up and ask them if realize their microphone is still on and then ask if they are having a nice day. Tell them God loves them and pay for your coffee. Don't drink your caffeinated coffee but give it to someone else who might drink regular coffee. In this way, you have diffused your hurt, diffused the wait person's anger, given them a witness about God, and made a gift of a free cup of coffee to someone who will be blessed. You have taken a volatile situation and spewed love, healing and blessing out instead of anger, hurt and meanness! If a situation is such that you can't do good, at least get out and away so that you don't do bad. Pray about it and ask God to help you forgive so that it doesn't fester in your heart.


Ecclesiastes 7:23-29 All this I have proved by wisdom; I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. (24) That which is far off and exceedingly deep, who can find it out? (25) I set my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and 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, and her hands like bands. Whoever pleases God shall escape from her, but the sinner shall be taken by her. (27) Behold, this I have found, says the Preacher, counting one by one, to find out the sum, (28) which my soul still sought, but I find not: one man among a thousand I have found, but a woman among all those I have not found. (29) Lo, this only I have found, that God has made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions. (Modern King James Version)

Ecclesiastes 7:23-29 I used my wisdom and thought about all these things. I wanted to be wise, but I couldn't do it. (24) I cannot understand why things are as they are. It is too hard for anyone to understand. (25) I studied and I tried very hard to find true wisdom. I tried to find a reason for everything. I did learn that it is foolish to be evil, and it is crazy to act like a fool. (26) I also found that some women are dangerous like traps. Their hearts are like nets, and their arms are like chains. It is worse than death to be caught by these women. God's followers should run away from them. Let the sinners be caught by them. (27) The Teacher says, "I added all this together to see what answer I could find. I am still looking for answers, but I did find this: I found one good man in a thousand. But I did not find even one good woman. (29) "There is one other thing I have learned. God made people good, but they have found many ways to be bad." (Easy To Read Version)

Ecclesiastes 7:23-29 I told myself that I would be smart and try to understand all of this, but it was too much for me. (24) The truth is beyond us. It's far too deep. (25) So I decided to learn everything I could and become wise enough to discover what life is all about. At the same time, I wanted to understand why it's stupid and senseless to be an evil fool. (26) Here is what I discovered: A bad woman is worse than death. She is a trap, reaching out with body and soul to catch you. But if you obey God, you can escape. If you don't obey, you are done for. (27) With all my wisdom I have tried to find out how everything fits together, (28) but so far I have not been able to. I do know there is one good man in a thousand, but never have I found a good woman. (29) I did learn one thing: We were completely honest when God created us, but now we have twisted minds. (Contemporary English Version)

There was a time when Solomon thought himself wise enough to comprehend and understand the work of God. He needed to come to the end of himself which is revealed in these self-humbling verses. He admits defeat. He cannot understand all things. We cannot understand everything. We are NOT God! We cannot control everything! We cannot understand our own selves, much less this world. We cannot control our own selves, much less others. King Solomon was respected throughout his world as being one of the wisest and most intellectual of men and yet he couldn't unravel the wisdom of God.

Natural wisdom and knowledge, pleasure, power, fame, and riches are vanity, empty, useless. The more Solomon knew, the more he was convinced of his own ignorance, and the further away from godly knowledge he drifted. "The more I know the more I see there is to be known, and the more sensible I am of my own ignorance".

1 Kings 11:1-3 The LORD did not want the Israelites to worship foreign gods, so he had warned them not to marry anyone who was not from Israel. Solomon loved his wife, the daughter of the king of Egypt. But he also loved some women from Moab, Ammon, and Edom, and others from Sidon and the land of the Hittites. Seven hundred of his wives were daughters of kings, but he also married three hundred other women. As Solomon got older, some of his wives led him to worship their gods. He wasn't like his father David, who had worshiped only the LORD God. (Contemporary English Version)

In Ecclesiastes 7:26-28, King Solomon speaks with godly sorrow here. He now discovers more than ever the evil of his sins. The sins of which he had been guilty. Loving and marrying many "strange women" was one of his worst sins. How was he likely to find a loving, virtuous, godly woman among those he had collected? Of all his sinful follies, none was as bad a trap, in seducing him from God, as idolatrous women. They led him astray into idolatry. He searched for a good, godly, loving woman in all the wrong places. If you want a virtuous, godly woman who will be faithful to you, you won't usually find them in the bars, highways and byways! The women who collect in bars aren't the good women. The women who walk the streets looking for men, aren't the virtuous women. The women who go to the wild parties and get wasted aren't the ones you want to bring home to meet mother. The women who sleep around with men aren't the ones who will remain faithful to you. The women who strip, pole dance, flash their nudity and scream with drunken laughter, aren't the ones who will be a good, dependable wife who lovingly raises your kids and is a good example to them. But let me add, neither are the men who do these same things. As a woman, I won't find a man who will be loving, respectful, dependable, hard working and a godly father to my children if I'm looking only in bars,  wild parties or at men who sleep around with multiple women. If I want a good husband, I should avoid those men. If you want a good wife, you should avoid those women. That is NOT to say that people can't change. But they only have one chance of changing and that is through Jesus Christ. Even Christians can make a mess, but your only chance of a life change is through Jesus Christ. So if you've been one of those who parties hardy and been wild but you are sick of that lifestyle, let me invite you to pray and ask Jesus to forgive you and accept Him as your King, Master and Lord and ask Him to send the Holy Spirit to live in your heart to help you become a better person. You can become a godly man or woman. None of us is born sinless and all of us need a Savior. Even as a Christian you will battle sin in your heart but you will be saved and the Holy Spirit living in you will do the slow work of transforming you into the person God wants you to be. If you are looking for a Christian man or woman to marry, don't look in the wrong places. Look for someone who has had a true conversion and knows Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. You want your home to normally be a place of love, forgiveness, peace, harmony, respect and faithfulness. That is not going to happen if your marriage and home aren't based on Jesus Christ. If you and your loved one are not saved then you asking for godly things to come out of ungodly people. It's impossible. You can't expect Christian traits to be found in unsaved people. Heck, it's hard enough for Christians to live them and that's with the Holy Spirit living inside us trying to strengthen us to live right! We humans are a stubborn and sinful breed but God loves us and He's made the way for us to be saved and to live a better way. You won't find a perfect person in your search for a spouse. But you can find a person who loves God and wants to live a godly life, a person who has a tender heart towards God and is sorry when they sin. But don't expect to find them out in the wild party world! If you find a Christian acting out at a wild party, they may be saved but are, at that moment, in a backslidden state, rebelling against what they know to be right. Hopefully, they will come to their senses and ask for forgiveness. If they claim to be a Christian but they live a rebellious lifestyle and see no wrong in it, then they aren't really Christians. So, don't do like King Solomon and hook your wagon up to a wild horse and expect an easy ride. He was making political marriages (much like people who marry for money or connections) or lustful marriages (based on sexual desires) and ignoring God's way. How do we marry God's way? How do we know we've got the right person? Praying! And be obedient to God. He says don't sleep around outside of marriage (fornication). If you keep to that standard and say, "God, I don't understand and I have all these feelings but I will trust in You and do what You say." Guess what? God will provide for you. He will give You the very best for your situation. Sometimes it's better for you to remain single and you might not want to hear that. But, if you make a hasty marriage, you will really regret it and one day you will think, "I should have listened to God and obeyed Him." But, most times, there will be that someone who God brings into your life and you will know that this is the one He sent you. Sometimes you meet that someone God intends for you but it's just not intended at that particular time. For instance, you knew Joe Shmoe in high school but it wasn't until 10 yrs later that you started dating and found him to have been changed by the Holy Spirit and now is the time to marry him, not then before he was saved. And I have to think about all these people who think having a gorgeous model or a hunky dunky muscleman is what they want. They think the pretty person is God's best for them only to jump into a marriage that goes sour when that beautiful model turns out to be the diva from hell or that hunky dunky muscleman turns out to be a jealous maniac. It's not all in the looks people! Just because someone is pretty on the outside doesn't mean they are pretty on the inside. Keep that in mind! Solomon paid heavily for his disobedience! He suffered untold heartache:

"This is that which he here most feelingly laments, and in very pathetic expressions. He found the remembrance of the sin very grievous. O how heavily did it lie upon his conscience! what an agony was he in upon the thought of it - the wickedness, the foolishness, the madness, that he had been guilty of! I find it more bitter than death. As great a terror seized him, in reflection upon it, as if he had been under the arrest of death. Thus do those that have their sins set in order before them by a sound conviction cry out against them; they are bitter as gall, nay, bitter as death, to all true penitents. Uncleanness is a sin that is, in its own nature, more pernicious than death itself." -Matthew Henry's Commentary

Solomon had traced sin to it's roots. He finally came to realize that he was sinful from the start. His father, King David, knew this:
Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Modern King James Version)

Our sins are innumerable. We cannot count them. Even when we try to do good, we sin. We cannot save ourselves from our sins.

Jesus Christ, alone of men, is fully perfect. But no perfect “woman” has ever existed, not even the Virgin Mary. So King Solomon's ultimate meaning is even more true. The Messiah, the Wisdom of God, was who King Solomon sought for. Jesus is the One of Ten Thousand.
Song of Solomon 5:10 "He is handsome and healthy, the most outstanding among ten thousand."
Jesus is the only one who is perfect. He was all God but also all human. He was born of a human woman and the Holy Spirit so he was a "mixed breed" if you will. He was totally human, which He inherited from his mother. He was totally God, which He inherited from his Father. Therefore He was the only human being who was perfect. And that meant He was the only one who could pay the price for sin! He was a sinless human and could pay the price for our sins. He was divine and could be raised again from the dead. And He did it all for us! He didn't do it just for the Jews, or just for men or just for whites or just for women or just for children or just for the heterosexuals... He did it for all of our sins. All we have to do is believe it and ask His forgiveness and ask that He send the Holy Spirit to help us live right lives. It's called being born again because our spirit is thus born and the Holy Spirit begins the process of sanctification. This means training our new spirits, stengthening, leading us to repentance and helping us to be obedient. Over time, our spirit gets stronger and more mature and we learn how to be obedient more and more. The process of sanctification is a time consuming process. But it's available for everyone! Please take the time to pray to God now and ask Jesus into your life!


Ecclesiastes 8:1 Who is as the wise? And who knows the meaning of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed. (Modern King James Version)

Ecc 8:1 Who is as the wise? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? The wisdom of man causeth his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed. (Young's Literal Translation)

Ecc 8:1 No one can understand and explain things the way wise people can. Their wisdom makes them happy. It changes a sad face into a happy one. (Easy to Read Version)

Ecc 8:1 Who is smart enough to explain everything? Wisdom makes you cheerful and gives you a smile. (Contemporary English Version)

Ecc 8:1 Only the wise know what things really mean. Wisdom makes them smile and makes their frowns disappear. (Good News Bible)

There seems to be two ways of looking at this scripture. Some interpret it like this: "Only someone who has godly wisdom can understand and see the truth in each situation. Only a wise person can cut to the chase and explain or teach things to another person. This ability is a blessing that makes the teacher and student smile."

"The wise man knows how to explain difficult things, to unfold mysterious things; in short, he understands how to go to the foundation of things." -Keil & Delitzsch Commentary

Others interpret it like this: "Is there anyone who can discern the things of God? Is there anyone wise enough to know it all? I, King Solomon, am known to be the wisest man in the world and yet I can't discern these mysterious things. I would have to be totally transformed if I could understand God's wisdom."

To follow in the latter vein,when we are born again, we become new creatures in Christ Jesus. We start the process of being transformed (Christians call it "sanctification").

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (King James Version)

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (English Standard Version)

When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us to help us in this sanctification process that lasts throughout the rest of our lives. He is our Teacher. He strengthens, empowers, comforts, teaches and helps us. So He helps us discern what's right and wrong in situations. He is in charge of transforming us, renewing us, building us up, making us into the people God created us to be. It's only the wisdom of God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us, that will transform us. We become different people. I remember some of the things that I've done in my past when I was unsaved and then a new babe in Christ and I cringe. I'm ashamed of some of the things I did, said or thought. I'm a very different person now and the Holy Spirit has done a long hard work in changing me into this different person. And I will continue to change and grow and mature in the spirit as long as I live. So, if the Lord sees fit to leave me on this earth another 20 years, I will look back on this time and see how much I've grown since then.

Sometimes people think they would like to go back to being a teenager or a twentysomething. They want to be "young again". They are so afraid or distressed by the natural aging process. Our society does not value the middle aged and elderly people so we fight aging tooth and nail. Botox treatments, plastic surgery, expensive beauty treatments, hours at the gym, heavy makeup, died hair, wigs and toupees, etc. But these things only spiff up the outside. We should be more concerned with the inside.

Instead of having a mid-life crises as the unsaved do, we, Christians, should value the lessons we've learned throughout our lives. We should treasure the wisdom that God has imparted throughout our life experiences. We should be ever thankful for how far we've come in our sanctification process. To be very truthful, I wouldn't mind having a youthful body again but I don't want to lose the life lessons and maturing I've gained. A young, pretty body is not worth losing what I've learned. So I can honestly say that I wouldn't go back again. I don't want to relive my youthful indiscretions. That would be like a college graduate going back to the first grade and having to relive the next 16 years! No thank you! I'm happy where I am spiritually and I look forward to more transformation in the future! So, although I look older on the outside, I have a better inside. And I'm so thankful that I didn't waste too many years. I was saved at a young age and have many years now as a Christian. I don't take credit for that as God was the one that enabled me to hear and understand the plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit worked on me at an early age. But it's something to be thankful for. I'm not a 52 year old babe in Christ. That would be like a 52 year old having to start in kindergarden. Although, if you have been unsaved and you are now 50 years old, don't let that thought stop you. It's better to be a 50 year old beginning in spiritual kindergarden than a 50 year old lost and going to hell! As long as you are still breathing, it's not too late to be saved and start your spiritual transformation!

Let's look at a Bible story that shows what your face will look like when you spend time with God. Moses went on the mountain top and spent alone time with God. He was with God for 40 days and 40 nights. Practising the presence of God can transform us and it is reflected in our demeanor!

Exodus 34:27-35 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write everything that I have told you. This is the agreement that I made with you and the Israelites." (28) Moses stayed there with the LORD for 40 days and 40 nights. Moses did not eat any food or drink any water. And he wrote the words of the agreement (the Ten Commandments) on the two stone tablets. (29) When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he carried the two stone tablets of the Agreement. Because he had talked with the Lord, his face was shining, but he did not know it. (30) Aaron and all the people of Israel saw that Moses' face was shining bright. So they were afraid to go near him. (31) But Moses called to them. So Aaron and all the leaders of the people went to him. Moses talked with them. (32) After that all the Israelites came near Moses, and he gave them the commands that the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. (33) When Moses finished speaking to the people, he put a covering over his face. (34) Any time Moses went before the LORD to speak with him, Moses took off the covering. Then Moses would come out and tell the Israelites what the Lord commanded. (35) The people would see that Moses' face was shining bright, so he would cover his face again. He kept his face covered until the next time he went in to speak with the Lord.

Moses had been with God and when he came back to the camp, his face was shining with such a light that the people were afraid of him! He had to put a veil on. This eased their fear and they couldn't see the glorious shine as it faded. Each time, Moses met with God, his face so shined!

Now, lets look at another place that the Bible talks about a veil, covering, curtain or wrapping. When God commanded Moses to build a Tabernacle, God had the Tabernacle built with 3 areas. You had the entrance court or outer court. The entire area was enclosed with a fence of curtains or veils, but the outer court had no roof. It was open to the sky. Then you had the inner court or Holy place which was the outer room of the covered tent. Finally, there was the most inner court or Holy of Holies under the tent. The Tabernacle was built as a place to worship and inquire of God. It had to be portable because the people were still out in the wilderness and had not entered the Promised Land yet. So it was a magnificent wall and tent.

Exodus 26:31-34 "And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. (32) And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. (33) And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. (34) You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. (English Standard Version)

There was a tremendous curtain that separated the inner court from the Holy of Holies. It was very costly and had scarlet, purple and blue colors with cherubim embroidered on it. The colors symbolized the blood of Jesus, royalty, and and deity. No one could enter the Holy of Holies unless he was the High Priest whom had been purified by all the proscribed preparations. He could only enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. This was the place where the Ark of the Covenant resided and the lid of the Ark had a seat on it that was sheltered by 2 angels and their wings. God said that this was where He would reside on earth. The Ark was literally a throne for God and He dispensed forgiveness and mercy from this Mercy Seat. It was such an awesome place and so holy that if the High Priest was not prepared exactly like God commanded then he could be struck dead. So the other priests would tie a rope around his middle. His priestly robes included bells on the hem so that he made tinkling noises as he walked. If the tingling bells stopped, they would know the High Priest had been struck dead and they would use the rope to pull his body out of the Holy of Holies! Sin cannot stand before God. He is too holy and pure Himself.

This Tabernacle symbolized God living amongst and in the middle of His people. He was their heart. The Tabernacle was always in the center of the camp with the tribes camping around the outside of the Tabernacle. The people could enter the outside, outer court, the priests could enter the Holy Place. But only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies where the Ark was and that was only by passing through the curtain or veil that separated the people from God's presence. Because of sin, there was a separation between God and His people. He was always there for them, but the veil separated them. Why a veil? Why not a door, a gate? Because the veil was temporary. God would not always be separated from His people.

Isaiah 25:7-9 But now there is a veil covering all nations and people. This veil is called "death." (8) But death will be destroyed forever. And the Lord GOD will wipe away every tear from every face. In the past, all of his people were sad, but God will take away that sadness from the earth. All of this will happen because the LORD said it would. (9) At that time people will say, "Here is our God! He is the one we have been waiting for. He has come to save us. We have been waiting for our LORD. So we will rejoice and be happy when he saves us." (Easy to Read Version)

Death is the result of sin. The Bible says that death is the "wages of sin". We are separated from God by our sin which results in death. But, through Jesus Christ, we can be saved from our sins! We don't have to be separted from God any more!

Matthew 27:50-51 And crying again with a loud voice, Jesus released His spirit. (51) And, behold! The veil of the temple was torn into two from above as far as below. And the earth quaked, and the rocks were sheared! (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible)

Jesus' sacrifice, His death on the cross, tore the veil from top to bottom. NOT bottom to top! Even that signifies that the tearing away of the veil was done by God, not by man! We can now go into the Holy of Holies and meet with our God! We are no longer separated.

Hebrews 9:1-28 The first covenant had rules for worship and a place made for worship as well. (2) A tent was put up, the outer one, which was called the Holy Place. In it were the lampstand and the table with the bread offered to God. (3) Behind the second curtain was the tent called the Most Holy Place. (4) In it were the gold altar for the burning of incense and the Covenant Box all covered with gold and containing the gold jar with the manna in it, Aaron's stick that had sprouted leaves, and the two stone tablets with the commandments written on them. (5) Above the Box were the winged creatures representing God's presence, with their wings spread over the place where sins were forgiven. But now is not the time to explain everything in detail. (6) This is how those things have been arranged. The priests go into the outer tent every day to perform their duties, (7) but only the high priest goes into the inner tent, and he does so only once a year. He takes with him blood which he offers to God on behalf of himself and for the sins which the people have committed without knowing they were sinning. (8) The Holy Spirit clearly teaches from all these arrangements that the way into the Most Holy Place has not yet been opened as long as the outer tent still stands. (9) This is a symbol which points to the present time. It means that the offerings and animal sacrifices presented to God cannot make the worshiper's heart perfect, (10) since they have to do only with food, drink, and various purification ceremonies. These are all outward rules, which apply only until the time when God will establish the new order. (11) But Christ has already come as the High Priest of the good things that are already here. The tent in which he serves is greater and more perfect; it is not a tent made by human hands, that is, it is not a part of this created world. (12) When Christ went through the tent and entered once and for all into the Most Holy Place, he did not take the blood of goats and bulls to offer as a sacrifice; rather, he took his own blood and obtained eternal salvation for us. (13) The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a burnt calf are sprinkled on the people who are ritually unclean, and this purifies them by taking away their ritual impurity. (14) Since this is true, how much more is accomplished by the blood of Christ! Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to God. His blood will purify our consciences from useless rituals, so that we may serve the living God. (15) For this reason Christ is the one who arranges a new covenant, so that those who have been called by God may receive the eternal blessings that God has promised. This can be done because there has been a death which sets people free from the wrongs they did while the first covenant was in effect. (16) In the case of a will it is necessary to prove that the person who made it has died, (17) for a will means nothing while the person who made it is alive; it goes into effect only after his death. (18) That is why even the first covenant went into effect only with the use of blood. (19) First, Moses proclaimed to the people all the commandments as set forth in the Law. Then he took the blood of bulls and goats, mixed it with water, and sprinkled it on the book of the Law and all the people, using a sprig of hyssop and some red wool. (20) He said, "This is the blood which seals the covenant that God has commanded you to obey." (21) In the same way Moses also sprinkled the blood on the Sacred Tent and over all the things used in worship. (22) Indeed, according to the Law almost everything is purified by blood, and sins are forgiven only if blood is poured out. (23) Those things, which are copies of the heavenly originals, had to be purified in that way. But the heavenly things themselves require much better sacrifices. (24) For Christ did not go into a Holy Place made by human hands, which was a copy of the real one. He went into heaven itself, where he now appears on our behalf in the presence of God. (25) The Jewish high priest goes into the Most Holy Place every year with the blood of an animal. But Christ did not go in to offer himself many times, (26) for then he would have had to suffer many times ever since the creation of the world. Instead, now when all ages of time are nearing the end, he has appeared once and for all, to remove sin through the sacrifice of himself. (27) Everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God. (28) In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for him. (Good News Bible)

Hebrews 10:8-22 First he said, "You neither want nor are you pleased with sacrifices and offerings or with animals burned on the altar and the sacrifices to take away sins." He said this even though all these sacrifices are offered according to the Law. (9) Then he said, "Here I am, O God, to do your will." So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place. (10) Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all. (11) Every Jewish priest performs his services every day and offers the same sacrifices many times; but these sacrifices can never take away sins. (12) Christ, however, offered one sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective forever, and then he sat down at the right side of God. (13) There he now waits until God puts his enemies as a footstool under his feet. (14) With one sacrifice, then, he has made perfect forever those who are purified from sin. (15) And the Holy Spirit also gives us his witness. First he says, (16) "This is the covenant that I will make with them in the days to come, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts and write them on their minds." (17) And then he says, "I will not remember their sins and evil deeds any longer." (18) So when these have been forgiven, an offering to take away sins is no longer needed. (19) We have, then, my friends, complete freedom to go into the Most Holy Place by means of the death of Jesus. (20) He opened for us a new way, a living way, through the curtain---that is, through his own body. (21) We have a great priest in charge of the house of God. (22) So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. (Good News Bible)

2 Corinthians 3:10-18 In fact, the new agreement is so wonderful that the Law is no longer glorious at all. (11) The Law was given with a glory that faded away. But the glory of the new agreement is much greater, because it will never fade away. (12) This wonderful hope makes us feel like speaking freely. (13) We are not like Moses. His face was shining, but he covered it to keep the people of Israel from seeing the brightness fade away. (14) The people were stubborn, and something still keeps them from seeing the truth when the Law is read. Only Christ can take away the covering that keeps them from seeing. (15) When the Law of Moses is read, they have their minds covered over (16) with a covering that is removed only for those who turn to the Lord. (17) The Lord and the Spirit are one and the same, and the Lord's Spirit sets us free. (18) So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord's Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord. (Contemporary English Version)

We no longer have to be separated from God. The veil is removed, torn away by God. We can stand in His Presence because of what Jesus did for us! As we practise being in the presence of Almighty God, it should change us and it should be reflected in our behavior, our speech, our thoughts, our actions, our lives! People should be able to tell that we are Christians just by observing us.

Do you dress in a way that is worldly? Or do you dress modestly so that you reflect Christ, NOT the world? Some denominations believe we have to dress a certain way, not cut our hair, never wear jewelry, etc. I understand where they can come to this conclusion but it's not just more rules to follow. It's about being in God's presence and then living our lives transformed! That transformation is evident to others. I have no problem wearing pants, but I don't want to wear them so tight or so low that it makes me look like a hooker. I wear bathing suits by the pool or on the beach. But I don't wear them provocatively or pick suits that deliberately titillate men. Wear shorts but don't let them be so short that your butt cheeks hang out or so tight or low that it gives the wrong idea. I don't mind a woman wearing short hair, as long as it doesn't make them look manly in a homosexual way. I don't mind high heel shoes as long as they aren't so high that they make you look like a streetwalker. You see, it's not what you wear as much as it's a reflection of God's presence in your life! By all means, wear jewelry. I do! But it's not to be an idol in my life or to become such an expense that it hurts my ability to give and to be generous to others. I, personally, love jewelry but I would have a bad conscience if I spent too much on jewelry and not enough on furthering God's kingdom. It's really NOT rules and regulations. It's a result, a consequence, an outgrowth of your time spent in God's presence. It's not religion, it's a relationship!


Eccclesiastes 8:2-7 If you promised God that you would be loyal to the king, I advise you to keep that promise. (3) Don't quickly oppose the king or argue when he has already made up his mind. (4) The king's word is law. No one can ask him, "Why are you doing this?" (5) If you obey the king, you will stay out of trouble. So be smart and learn what to do and when to do it. (6) Life is hard, but there is a time and a place for everything, (7) though no one can tell the future. (Contemporary English Version)

If you made an oath and swore to be obedient to the king then keep it. God has allowed this leader to be in his position for this time. Kings are to be honoured, obeyed, and submitted to, in the lawful discharge of their office. Unless it goes against the higher law of God, then we should obey our leader. If we are Christians we are already sworn to the King of Kings, our ultimate ruler and master. Choosing to accept Jesus as our Savior and make Him our Lord, means we have sworn allegiance to Him first and foremost. His law is higher than any earthly kingdom. Remember, we are only here as His Ambassadors, we have our citizenship in Heaven. But, if the laws of the country line up under the Law of God, we are to obey the laws of the country we live in. An example is abortion. The Bible tells us that God forms the child in the womb and it is God who decides when it's time for someone to die. The United States law now says that women can decide to abort their unborn children. Between the two conflicting views, which law do I obey? God's Law, of course! So, to me, "legal" abortion is unlawful under God's commands. That doesn't mean that I should bomb abortion clinics or kill abortion doctors or shout obscenities outside of clinics. It does mean that I should oppose the abortion laws in any way I can. I would not personally have an abortion and I would counsel any girl/woman who is considering it, not to go through with it. I can donate money and/or volunteer at Crises Pregnancy Centers, I can vote for politicians who say they are against abortion. I can write letters in support of life. I can peacefully protest abortion. I can pray for the women and doctors involved in abortion. I can try to adopt an unwanted child. Etc, etc, etc. Another example is homosexuality. God specifically calls it an abomination and brought judgement against those who practised it. Our United States laws now protect homosexuality in all ways. Between the two opposites, which law do I obey? God's Law! Again, that doesn't mean that I hate homosexuals or that I beat them up and call them names. I don't practise hatred against homosexuals and refuse to hire them. But I can follow God's Laws by not practising it myself and encouraging others not to. I can donate money to Christian organizations that try to help homosexuals see what kind of misery they are storing up for themselves so they can ask Jesus to forgive them and free them from the bondage of homosexuality. I can pray for them. I can try to lovingly witness to them. I must follow God's Law first and follow His Laws in ways that are pleasing to Him. God doesn't hate and doesn't want us to hate so we must follow His Laws without hatred towards others.

If a policeman pulls over someone who is driving under the influence, the correct way, the legal way is to ask them to step out of the car, ask them to walk a straight line, make them take a breathalyzer. The whole time he is being videotaped from his car's camera. The policeman has to follow the law and treat the DUI as a person with rights. The policeman cannot yank the person out of the car while screaming obscenities then put a gun to the DUI's head and shoot him on site. Yes, the DUI was breaking the law but the policeman has to follow the law too. Same with us. As Christians we must follow God's ways. God would have us to be firm, but gentle. He would have us to be kind but not compromising, loving but not weak, meek and humble but not accomodating sin. We must be good examples. God is watching us just like the policeman's car camera was watching him.

Don't be hasty in rebelling against your government leaders. As Christians, we owe our first allegiance to God. If our government makes and enforces laws that go against God, we are to obey God first. But, in America, we should obey the law unless it's in direct conflict with God's Law. For instance, we should obey the traffic laws, civil laws, etc. These are for our good and for the good of others. Now if it came to a time where a U.S. law insisted that we worship an idol or be executed, I could not obey that law. I would have to be killed before I would bow to an idol. That has happened in some countries and still happens today.

But we should not lead a revolution or rebellion just because we like to fight. It is to be carefully considered, discussed, debated, but most of all, prayed over. Then, if God leads you, you follow Him. We know from experience that not all revolutions or rebellions end in a better situation. Take the Russian Revolution of 1918. The people ended up being even more oppressed by the revolutionary leaders than they were under the Czar. It can get out of hand very quickly and there is always loss of life. Don't just get mad and join a vigilante group or an underground militia. It's a very serious thing.

And if you are in position of influence in a ruler or leader's inner group, then walk carefully. Use diplomacy and tact. A leader is a human being and they have their own mind. Once it's made up, there may be little you can say or do to change it. You should try to tactfully voice your concerns but realize the decision then rests with the leader and they will be responsible to God for their actions and decisions. If you try to argue and manipulate then you run the risk of losing your position of influence and maybe a lot more. Also, if you have manipulated the leader into making a decision, the responsibility for the outcome is on your shoulders.

Now, let's go deeper. As I said before, our citizenship is in Heaven and God is our ruler. I have to follow God's Laws, His Commandments. He is the executive, legislative and judicial branches all in One! I would advise never to rebel against God or lead a revolution against God. That's what satan did. He enticed a third of the angels to rebel against God and they all lost! Their end is eternity in the lake of fire. There is no rebellion against God that will stand. There have been plenty of people who have tried. I think of that stupid song, "I did it my way". Well, you can do it your way all the way to hell. It's your choice. But if satan, one of God's Archangels, and the angels of heaven who followed satan couldn't do it, what makes you think you can?

Thomas Wolfe wrote Bonfire of the Vanities in which his principle character was a Wall Street mover and shaker and in the beginning of the book, he kept calling himself a "Master of the Universe". He really thought he was a Master of the Universe and that he deserved whatever he wanted no matter who it hurt. Of course, it didn't take much to bring his world crashing down and to lose everything. It was a harshly humbling experience. Because no one is Master of the Universe except Jehovah God. With one flick of His Eyes He can break the most prideful and arrogant of men.

And don't try to whine and manipulate God into giving you what you want. Many people think they know what is best and pray accordingly. "Dear God, heal my child of this cold. Give me the money to pay my bills. Help me to get the job at Soandso Company. Amen." A better prayer might be, "Dear God, forgive me my sins. Help me in my troubles. May Your Will be done and not mine. Amen."

I've read and heard many spiritual leaders and teachers who say we should be specific about our prayers. And I'm not totally against that. It's just sometimes we get it in our minds that we know what's best and God better do it our way! In the prayer above, maybe God needs to keep your child home from school with a cold so that she isn't run over by the bus that loses it's brakes. Maybe you need to learn how to prioritize your finances and God is teaching you with a little financial hardship. Maybe you would get that job at Soandso Company only to have the boss from hell. You and I don't know what's best. We don't know the future. So it's best to cultivate a humble dependence on God. He does know what's best and He does know the future and we can trust Him to do what's best for us. Prayer is all about communing with God. It's a way of spending time in His Presence! It's how we get to know Him so that we can trust Him. It helps keep us humble and enables us to trust Him. It's not about changing God's mind and manipulating Him to do what we want. Some day He may answer your prayer and give you what you thought you wanted and you find that you were way wrong!

Jesus, the Son of God, prayed, "Not my will, but Thy Will be done." If it was good enough for Jesus, I guess it's good enough for me! In my prayers I oftentimes pour out my feelings to God and tell Him what I desire but then I tell Him that I want His Will and His Will only to be done. And I ask Him to help me to accept His Will.

So let God be the King, Ruler, Master in your life. Let Him make the decisions and then you be obedient to Him because you trust Him with your life. You've sworn allegiance to Him and you owe Him your complete obedience. He has earned it. You may not understand all that He does. You may not even agree with it at first. But if you obey Him, you will find it was all for the best.

Knights during Medieval times would kneel before the King with only one knee down. That signified the Knight was humbled before the King but was also willing to go into instant action to obey the King. We should be like those Knights. We should be humbled before our King signifying our love and dependence upon Him. But we should also be willing to go into instant action when our King makes a command. That is our duty. Our duty is not to make the decisions but to obey. And we obey because we know God well enough and trust Him thoroughly. And if things should go all to pieces, the responsibility lies with God and not on our puny shoulders. But, with God, nothing goes beyond His control so that's not even a valid statment is it? But we don't have to carry the burden of the world on our shoulders. Let King Jesus carry it.

It's not easy but it's good for us.


Ecclesiastes 8:8-14 We cannot control the wind or determine the day of our death. There is no escape in time of war, and no one can hide behind evil. (9) I noticed all this and thought seriously about what goes on in the world. Why does one person have the power to hurt another? (10) I saw the wicked buried with honor, but God's people had to leave the holy city and were forgotten. None of this makes sense. (11) When we see criminals commit crime after crime without being punished, it makes us want to start a life of crime. (12) They commit hundreds of crimes and live to a ripe old age, in spite of the saying: Everyone who lives right and respects God will prosper, (13) but no one who sins and rejects God will prosper or live very long. (14) There is something else that doesn't make sense to me. Good citizens are treated as criminals, while criminals are honored as though they were good citizens. (Contemporary English Version)

We have an enemy, DEATH! We are in a struggle against aging and death but we will all die. We cannot control anything, much less our death. We cannot hide from death. When it comes, it finds us. There is no escape. The wages of sin is death and we are all sinners so we must all die. If we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior then we will escape spiritual death and eternity in hell. But, our bodies will die. They will wear out and die. In the End Times, Christ will resurrect our physical bodies into glorious, immortal bodies that will once again join our spirits but for a time, our bodies will be dead.

Romans 6:6-8 We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. This was done, so that our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin. We know that sin doesn't have power over dead people. As surely as we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. (Contemporary English Version)

Romans 8:10 But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins. (Contemporary English Version)

Then King Solomon phrases his most perplexing questions. You thought you were the only one to ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people"? No, that question has been asked by those much smarter than you for thousands of years. God certainly has heard these questions before.

Psalm 73:1-28 (A psalm by Asaph.) God is truly good to Israel, especially to everyone with a pure heart. (2) But I almost stumbled and fell, (3) because it made me jealous to see proud and evil people and to watch them prosper. (4) They never have to suffer, they stay healthy, (5) and they don't have troubles like everyone else. (6) Their pride is like a necklace, and they commit sin more often than they dress themselves. (7) Their eyes poke out with fat, and their minds are flooded with foolish thoughts. (8) They sneer and say cruel things, and because of their pride, they make violent threats. (9) They dare to speak against God and to order others around. (10) God will bring his people back, and they will drink the water he so freely gives. (11) Only evil people would say, "God Most High cannot know everything!" (12) Yet all goes well for them, and they live in peace. (13) What good did it do me to keep my thoughts pure and refuse to do wrong? (14) I am sick all day, and I am punished each morning. (15) If I had said evil things, I would not have been loyal to your people. (16) It was hard for me to understand all this! (17) Then I went to your temple, and there I understood what will happen to my enemies. (18) You will make them stumble, never to get up again. (19) They will be terrified, suddenly swept away and no longer there. (20) They will disappear, Lord, despised like a bad dream the morning after. (21) Once I was bitter and brokenhearted. (22) I was stupid and ignorant, and I treated you as a wild animal would. (23) But I never really left you, and you hold my right hand. (24) Your advice has been my guide, and later you will welcome me in glory. (25) In heaven I have only you, and on this earth you are all I want. (26) My body and mind may fail, but you are my strength and my choice forever. (27) Powerful LORD God, all who stay far from you will be lost, and you will destroy those who are unfaithful. (28) It is good for me to be near you. I choose you as my protector, and I will tell about your wonderful deeds. (Contemporary English Version)

Notice that it wasn't until he "went to [God's] temple" that he began to gain some understanding. It's when we go to God, not away from God, that we gain some perspective. Spending time in God's Presence gives us insight and wisdom. We will never understand all that God does but we can learn to trust Him. He knows what He is doing far more than we do. We don't have God's Wisdom or Knowledge or Understanding or Power. But we can get to know God and thus begin to trust Him. We can't do that if we run away from God whenever bad things happen or something happens that we don't understand.

We must learn to see deeper and beyond what our eyes see. I have a nephew who was wrongly fired from a job. I couldn't understand why this good young man was falsely accused and lost his job. It wasn't fair. But don't think that God doesn't see the same situation. He knows it wasn't fair, but if my nephew trusts God, then God will turn this hurtful situation into something good for him. He may get a better job, he may learn humility (a very valuable spiritual lesson), he may be saved from something far worse, a co-worker might see his good attitude and get saved, etc. The main thing is to trust that God knows what's going on and is concerned for His Children. My nephew is not forgotten by God. He is not being punished by God. God is working on his behalf and will turn it into a learning and blessed experience. So what satan meant was to hurt my nephew and it looked like his strategy worked. But I know that my nephew is God's Child and the end result will be satan's defeat. It won't destroy my nephew. He may be knocked down for a time but he will make it.


Ecclesiastes 8:15-17 So I decided it was more important to enjoy life because the best thing people can do in this life is to eat, drink, and enjoy life. At least that will help people enjoy the hard work God gave them to do during their life on earth. (16) I carefully studied the things people do in this life. I saw how busy people are. They work day and night, and they almost never sleep. (17) I also saw that no one can understand all that God does. People can try and try to understand the things that happen here on earth, but they cannot. There may be wise people who claim to understand the meaning of these things, but they are wrong. No one can understand it all. (Easy to Read Version)

"Innocent mirth, a cheerfulness of spirit in whatsoever state condition men are; serenity and tranquillity of mind, thankfulness for what they have, and a free and comfortable use of it; this the wise man praised and recommended to good men, as being much better than to fret at the prosperity of the wicked, and the seemingly unequal distribution of things in this world, and because they had not so much of them: as others; who yet had reason to be thankful for what they had, and to lift up their heads and be cheerful, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God in another world." - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

"The Preacher is careful to set forth pleasure as a gift from God, to be earned by labor, and received with thankfulness to the Giver, and to be accounted for to Him." -Albert Barnes' Notes On The Bible

King Solomon is saying that worrying over things that we have no control over is a waste of time. We should enjoy what we can enjoy and be thankful to God with a contented heart than to waste our time in fruitless and frustrating anger about perceived injustices. It's best to leave it to God and don't carry that around with you. It's too heavy a burden. I am reminded of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.
                          --Reinhold Niebuhr

It's important for our own health and peace of mind to keep a balance in our lives. We need to keep checking our priorities and making sure that we keep the important things first. If we keep ourselves so busy running around, then we miss the times of relaxation and contentment. We also lose time with God and our families. Of course, we can't be lazy and indolent, expecting others to take care of us. That's wrong. We must work and make a living and be responsible people. So it's all in the balance. God is in the balance. Work hard, but enjoy yourself too.


...to be continued

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