To read Ecclesiastes Part Two .
Ecclesiastes 9:1 For all this I took to heart, even to make all this clear, that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. No man knows either love or hatred by all that is before them. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 9:1 All this I took to heart, and my heart saw it all: that the upright and the wise and their works are in the hand of God; and men may not be certain if it will be love or hate; all is to no purpose before them. (Bible In Basic English)
Ecclesiastes 9:1 I thought about these things. Then I understood that God has power over everyone, even those of us who are wise and live right. Anything can happen to any of us, and so we never know if life will be good or bad. (Contemporary English Version)
Ecclesiastes 9:1 I thought about all this very carefully. I saw that God controls what happens to the good and wise people and what they do. People don't know if they will be loved or hated, and they don't know what will happen in the future. (Easy To Read Version)
There are several ways to interpret this verse as shown in John Gill's Exposition of the Bible:
"No man knows his own love and hatred, his passions are so fickle and inconstant; what he loves now, he presently hates, as may be seen in the instances of Ammon, Ahasuerus, and others: or he knows not that what he loves and hates shall befall him, all depending on divine Providence; or he does not know the love and hatred of others, who are his friends or his foes, there is such deceitfulness in men: or rather, he does not know the love and hatred of God, with respect to himself or others, by the outward conduct of Providence; since the same things happen to one as to another; as health and strength, wealth and riches, honour and fame, wisdom and learning, long life, and the like: good men may know that they are loved of God, by his love being shed abroad in them, by the blessings of grace bestowed on them, and the witnessings of the Spirit to them; and know that sin is abominable to God, and wicked men are hated by him; and living and dying in sin, will be eternally damned; but who is an elect person, and who a reprobate, is not to be known by the outward estate of men, as to the things of life. Some render it, "even love and hatred", in connection with the preceding clause; that is, these are in the hands of God also; his love to his people is purely sovereign, according to his own will; not through any motives in them, as their love, loveliness, or good works; and his hatred of others, or the punishment of them for sin, and appointment of them to it; for the same is also as he pleases; see Romans 9:11; or the love and hatred of men; for God has the hearts and passions of all men in his hand, and at his command, and can raise or restrain them at his pleasure, Proverbs 21:1; the love and hatred of good men; he works in them love to himself and all divine things, and hatred of that which is evil; and also of bad men, he can make them love his people, and he can restrain their wrath when he pleases, Proverbs 16:7; and then the last clause is rendered, "no man knoweth all that is before them"; either before Elohim, the three divine Persons, to whom all things are manifest, or that were before decreed, as Aben Ezra; the purposes and decrees of God, which are the secret and deep things of God, and cannot be known but by his promises or Providence's: or man is so short sighted, that he cannot discern the things that are plain and manifest before him; and much less things future, that are yet to come. But the words, according to the accents, may be better rendered, as by Munster, "neither love nor hatred man knows"; whether the love professed to him is sincere, and what secret hatred is bore to him: "but all things are before him"; Elohim, the three divine Persons."
Ecclesiastes 9:2-3 All happens alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him who sacrifices, and to him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner. He who swears is as he who fears an oath.
This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event to all. Yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 9:2-3 Everyone shares the same experience: a single event affects the righteous, the wicked, the good, the clean, the unclean, whoever sacrifices, and whoever does not sacrifice. As it is with the good person, so also it is with the sinner; as it is with someone who takes an oath, so also it is with someone who fears taking an oath.
There is a tragedy that infects everything that happens on earth: a common event happens to everyone. In fact, the hearts of human beings are full of evil. Madness remains in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they join the dead. (International Standard Version)
Ecclesiastes 9:2-3 But exactly the same thing will finally happen to all of us, whether we live right and respect God or sin and don't respect God. Yes, the same thing will happen if we offer sacrifices to God or if we don't, if we keep our promises or break them. It's terribly unfair for the same thing to happen to each of us. We are mean and foolish while we live, and then we die. (Contemporary English Version)
What is the one event that happens to us all? Death, of course. But there other things that happen to all. For instance, we all receive the blessing of rain, oxygen, and good food; we all experience the miracle of birth or see the sun/moon and beautiful sunsets. Or we experience life's tragedies. All have experienced the loss of a loved one, feeling lonely, being shouted at and called names. Because of the Fall of man (when Adam and Eve sinned), sin is in this world and it has affected the entire creation. So, even though I'm saved, I still experience the hard things in life. I don't think there is ever a person who has not experienced pain in their lives, hurt feelings, depressing days. It is the nature of life and whether we are experiencing the wonderful blessings or the sad tragedies doesn't mean that someone is being blessed or cursed by God. As human beings we do not know the state of someone's relationship with God deep down in their hearts or where they are in their spiritual journey. Only God knows. We cannot discern by outward appearances. Of course, beating your children and having adulterous relationships are sins as pointed out in the Bible. If I see a man that does that I can say to myself, "This man has sinned and needs God." What I cannot say is, "This man is a sinner who is going to hell and will never be saved." We are not in the position to know whether someone is, or will be saved and we are not to judge that. We are to judge an action as a sin and point that person towards Christ. We are not to judge a person as one who cannot be saved or who will never be saved. We love the person but not the sin. We can tell a person that their behavior is sinful according to the Bible and tell them that God loves them and wants them to repent and be made clean and free from that sin. It must be done after we have looked at our own lives and searched our own hearts for sin and repented. And all words and actions towards that sinning person should be to lovingly confront and direct that person towards Christ. We are not to accept the sin and gloss over it and pretend it doesn't exist or that it's not sinful. But we are not to self righteously nag and browbeat the person either. Of course, even doing your best, the sinning person will most likely take it as browbeating, religious, Bible-thumping. If they want to continue sinning, they will not take kindly to anyone pointing out their sin. But, hopefully, your love and concern, words and actions will one day come to them and they will turn to God and be once and for all willing to give up the sin and be set free. But if you've screamed in their faces and called them "harlots" and "hellions"; carrying signs that say "You will burn in hell" then the chances of them turning to God are much slimmer. They will remember those hateful things and turn away from God instead of remembering the loving words and turning to God. Let us strive not to be the latter kind of Christian. There are times when you have lovingly confronted, kindly pointed the way, given them chances and forgiven them and it hasn't worked. In those cases you may have to take a firmer stand. Again, not in a hateful way, but in a firm way. It may mean sending them out from the home or church. It may mean having no further relationship with them until things turn around. The Apostle Paul had a situation in one of the churches that he wrote about. In his first letter to the Corinthian church he wrote,
1 Corinthians 5:1-12 I don't want to believe what I am hearing--that there is sexual sin among you. And it is such a bad kind of sexual sin that even those who have never known God don't allow it. People say that a man there has his father's wife. (2) And still you are proud of yourselves! You should have been filled with sadness. And the man who committed that sin should be put out of your group. (3) I cannot be there with you in person, but I am with you in spirit. And I have already judged the man who did this. I judged him the same as I would if I were really there. (4) Come together in the name of our Lord Jesus. I will be with you in spirit, and you will have the power of our Lord Jesus with you. (5) Then turn this man over to Satan. His sinful self has to be destroyed so that his spirit will be saved on the day when the Lord comes again. (6) Your proud talk is not good. You know the saying, "Just a little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise." (7) Take out all the old yeast, so that you will be a new batch of dough. You really are bread without yeast--Passover bread. Yes, Christ our Passover Lamb has already been killed. (8) So let us eat our Passover meal, but not with the bread that has the old yeast, the yeast of sin and wrongdoing. But let us eat the bread that has no yeast. This is the bread of goodness and truth. (9) I wrote to you in my letter that you should not associate with people who sin sexually. (10) But I did not mean the people of this world. You would have to leave the world to get away from all the people who sin sexually, or who are greedy and cheat each other, or who worship idols. (11) I meant you must not associate with people who claim to be believers but continue to live in sin. Don't even eat with a brother or sister who sins sexually, is greedy, worships idols, abuses others with insults, gets drunk, or cheats people. (12) It is not my business to judge those who are not part of the group of believers. God will judge them, but you must judge those who are part of your group. The Scriptures say, "Make the evil person leave your group." (Easy to Read Version)
It seems there was a person in the church (calling himself a Christian) who was sleeping with his father's wife. Apostle Paul tells the church how to deal with this man. Then, in his second letter to the Corinthian church, Apostle Paul gives them more instructions on how to deal with this man:
2 Corinthians 2:4-11 When I wrote to you before, I was very troubled and my heart was full of sadness. I wrote with many tears. I did not write to make you sad, but to let you know how much I love you. (5) Someone in your group has caused sadness--not to me, but to all of you. I mean he has caused sadness to all in some way. (I don't want to make it sound worse than it really is.) (6) The punishment that most of your group gave him is enough for him. (7) But now you should forgive him and encourage him. This will keep him from having too much sadness and giving up completely. (8) So I beg you to show him that you love him. (9) This is why I wrote to you. I wanted to test you and see if you obey in everything. (10) If you forgive someone, then I also forgive them. And what I have forgiven--if I had anything to forgive--I forgave it for you, and Christ was with me. (11) I did this so that Satan would not win anything from us. We know very well what his plans are. (Easy To Read Version)
I hope, when you read these verses, you see the balance of how we should behave towards those in our midst and families who are living in sin. There is a time for loving confrontation, a time for forgiving, a time for firmness, a time for even shunning, a time for hugging, a time for praying, etc. But all is to be done with the purpose of leading them to the Lord and showing them the way to repentance and being free of their sin. What better thing can we do for those we care about than to lead them to a personal acceptance of Jesus as their Lord and Savior and being set free from their sins to spend eternity in Heaven with their Father!?! And, for those who are saved but backsliding, what better can we do but to point them back to Jesus and to being free from the bondage of their sin!?!
Ecclesiastes 9:3-6 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event to all. Yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. (4) For whoever is chosen, to all those living, there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion. (5) For the living know that they shall die; but the dead do not know anything, nor do they have any more a reward; for their memory is forgotten. (6) Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; nor do they any longer have a part forever in all that is done under the sun. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 9:3-6 Of all the things that happen in this life, the worst thing is that all people end life the same way. But it is also very bad that people always think evil and foolish thoughts. And those thoughts lead to death. (4) There is hope for those who are still alive--it does not matter who they are. But this saying is true: A living dog is better than a dead lion. (5) The living know that they will die, but the dead don't know anything. They have no more reward. People will soon forget them. (6) After people are dead, their love, hate, and jealousy are all gone. And they will never again share in what happens on earth. (Easy To Read Version)
We all die. Because of sin, our bodies must die. It is the fate of all mankind. When we die, this world ceases to exist for us. We are soon forgotten by those on this earth and our lives, acquaintances, work are gone from us. We don't come back as ghosts and haunt our old homes or follow our family members around. We are gone from this world and we are in the next whether it be heaven or hell.
Does the thought of death turn you to God or away from God? To many, the thought of death leads them to party hardy in sin. It's like they want to experience all the sin they can while they are still alive! There was once a popular song titled, "Only The Good Die Young" and I once heard a teenager say she was going to get drunk because, "only the good die young". I wonder how many silly people have justified their sins with a silly phrase like that? And, worse, they think going to hell for eternity is just an eternity of a debauched party! Somehow they will be happy and drunk and stoned and sexed up and having a good time in hell!?! I hate to disabuse them of their favorite thought but eternity in hell is a horror that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy! You will be anything but happy and having a good time. Being separated from God means there will never be any light, life, goodness, kindness, fun, fellowship, love or good times. It will be eternal darkness and solitary confinement in this world is a picnic compared to hell. You won't have buddies and party pals and good time girls/boys to play with. God wants to save you from the eternal pain, agony, and misery of hell. That's why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save you! As long as you are alive, you can turn your heart to Jesus and repent of your sins and ask Him to forgive you and be Your Lord and Master! But once you are dead, there is no going back. If you have accepted Christ then you are in Heaven, but if you haven't, the default is hell. You either accept Christ or you got to hell. As long as you are alive you have a choice. But the second you are dead, there is no longer a choice. You can't go back and say, "I didn't mean it. I want another chance." If you have knowingly rejected Christ, you go to hell. If you don't make a choice and just keep avoiding it, you go to hell. You have to choose Jesus Christ in order to go to Heaven to be with Him. And He wants you in Heaven with Him! There is no person, still alive, who cannot be saved no matter how they've lived their life or how they've sinned. If a serial killer truly turns to God and repents and asks Jesus to come into his life, then he can be saved (he still faces the consequences on this earth for his sins). But even if you are a "good person" and you don't choose Christ, you will go to hell. It's plain and simple, no secret. God has made this knowledge available to all. He has made the way through Jesus Christ and it's a simple plan of salvation. It just has to be sincerely and truly accepted. There is only one action by you that is required... you have to willfully make a choice and it must be a sincere, true, heartfelt choice. He has His hand out, waiting for you to put your hand in His. You will still be human and sin, but you will be saved and He is always there to offer forgiveness when you repent. I have to repent daily and so will you but I am saved!
Dum spiro, spero - While I breathe, I hope
Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now is pleased with your works. (8) Let your garments be always white; and let your head lack no ointment. (9) Look on life with the wife whom you love all the days of the life of your vanity, which He has given you under the sun, all the days of your vanity. For that is your share in this life, and in your labor which you labor under the sun. (10) Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work, nor plan, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave where you go. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 Go ahead and enjoy your meals as you eat. Drink your wine with a joyful attitude, because God already has approved your actions. (8) Always keep your garments white, and don't fail to anoint your head. (9) Find joy in living with your wife whom you love every day of your pointless life that God gave you on earth, because this is your life assignment and your work to do on earth. (10) Whatever the activity in which you engage, do it with all your ability, because there is no work, no planning, no learning, and no wisdom in the next world where you're going. (International Standard Version)
Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 So go and eat your food now and enjoy it. Drink your wine and be happy. It is all right with God if you do these things. (8) Wear nice clothes and make yourself look good. (9) Enjoy life with the wife you love. Enjoy every day of your short life. God has given you this short life on earth--and it is all you have. So enjoy the work you have to do in this life. (10) Every time you find work to do, do it the best you can. In the grave there is no work. There is no thinking, no knowledge, and there is no wisdom. And we are all going to the place of death. (Easy To Read Version)
Make the best use of life that we can while it does last, and manage wisely what remains of it. Eating and drinking are necessary to our life and we can enjoy it. Not to excess which is gluttony or drunkenness and sinful. But we can and should enjoy our refreshment with a cheerful heart and an attitude of gratitude to the God who so blesses us.
Wearing white and anointing with oil was the ancients way of dressing for a party. It is necessary for us to wear clothes and attend to our hygiene and grooming and we can do this with fun. We are not to become so self-involved that we are excessively concerned about our appearance. Some people overspend on clothes, shoes, hair and plastic surgery. This is a type of self-idolatry. When all your time, energy, money and emotions are spent on thinking about yourself whether it's because you love or hate yourself, then you have made yourself into a mini-idol. I have watched some TV shows where some women have become anorexic. All they do, day and night, is obsess over themselves. They are so selfish and self-involved that everyone in the house has to accommodate and waltz around them. Even though these women think they hate the way they look and that's why they have to lose more and more weight, all this navel-gazing is as idolatrous as those who think they are the cat's pajamas. There are men and women going to any lengths to get what they want whether it's spending all day at the gym to get those muscle bound looks or having multiple plastic surgeries to look like Barbie doll. This is idolatrous! And this is not what this scripture is talking about. We don't have to waste our whole paycheck on a pair of designer shoes. We don't have to spend the money that could go to charity or the church or to help our aging parents on a whole new Fall wardrobe. Don't misunderstand me! I'm as susceptible as the next person to shopping and I've had to ask forgiveness for spending too much on myself.
On the other side are those who are so miserly that they don't get any joy out of their life. I have known some people who refuse to buy new clothes until their old ones are rags. This can be a little too thrifty. And there are those who cannot or will not take care of their hygiene and grooming. I don't know if they are too lazy or they just don't care. But if you don't bathe, wash your hair, brush your teeth, use deodorant and wear clean clothes you are not only living below your potential but you are making others uncomfortable. You end up drawing the wrong kind of attention to yourself.
So, there is a balance. You can enjoy yourself and dress nicely and groom yourself but not so excessively that it becomes idolatrous. We can enjoy with a cheerful heart and an attitude of gratitude.
We should also enjoy the wife (or husband) that we are married to. Our most intimate relationship is with our spouse and in our family. If at all possible we should enjoy our closest relationship and treasure it. We should cherish our spouse. Once again we can get off balance by driving ourselves and our spouse crazy over every little thing or by ignoring the very person you should be the closest too. On the Dr. Phil TV show I have seen men and women who pick, obsess and criticize everything their mate does. One woman recently admitted to calling her husband 20 times a day interrupting him at work with her jealousies. She cannot leave the poor man alone. She is destroying her marriage with her own hands. Another man was so controlling and criticized everything about his wife and what she did that she was ready to leave him. Again, he was destroying his marriage with his own hands. Both of these people, in their own way, were ruining their life and the life of their spouse and family. They could not enjoy what they have and were busy tearing it down. There was no enjoyment, not attitude of gratitude. God had blessed them with a loving spouse but instead of being thankful and treasuring the blessing, they were too busy rejecting that blessing and destroying it. Can you imagine criticizing God's present to you? You are, in effect, telling God that what He did is not good enough!
Then there are those who have the blessing of a good spouse but they ignore them. They are so busy with everything else that they have no time for the love of their life. Too busy with work, with the children, with your hobby, with your friends and buddies, with your projects that your spouse is lost in the mix, at the bottom of the list of priorities. A relationship takes work to keep it viable. By ignoring that relationship you risk losing it.
Much like a parent who works overtime for a month to make the money to buy his teenager a $500 iPad for their birthday. Then the child gets the iPad and doesn't even thank the parent for it; takes it to school and carelessly leaves it on their desk only to find out it was stolen. Or threw it across the room only to see it crash to the floor into a million pieces. Now the irresponsible teenager wants the parent to replace the iPad. God is the parent who has specifically designed a spouse for you. He gives you that spouse and you don't seem to be the least bit thankful. You ignore the blessing and treat it too lightly or you pick the blessing apart until there is nothing but hatred for it.
Knowing that we will all die and that our time here is limited means we should hold to this world lightly. It's all in the balance. Enjoy your life and be thankful but don't fall into excess.
How much of our time is spent worrying and obsessing over the things of this world? We have to keep the right perspective. The only thing that we can take with us, is our salvation (or not) and the things we do for the Lord. Everything not done for the Lord, is hay and straw.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For there is no other base for the building but that which has been put down, which is Jesus Christ. (12) But on the base a man may put gold, silver, stones of great price, wood, dry grass, cut stems; (13) Every man's work will be made clear in that day, because it will be tested by fire; and the fire itself will make clear the quality of every man's work. (14) If any man's work comes through the test, he will have a reward. (15) If the fire puts an end to any man's work, it will be his loss: but he will get salvation himself, though as by fire. (Basic Bible English)
It is so important to enjoy life but it's also important to work. When God created Adam, He gave Adam a job BEFORE they sinned and brought about The Fall! Did you know that in God's perfect world there was a satisfying, fulfilling job for Adam to do? Have you ever done something that you felt proud of and felt a satisfaction with a job well done? That is a taste of what God intended work to be. So whenever you work, do it well and to the best of your ability but always keeping your priorities straight.
And doing the work of the Lord is what will build up your treasures in Heaven.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 Charge the rich in this world that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, He offering to us richly all things to enjoy, (18) that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to share, to be generous, (19) laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Luke 12:16-21 Then he told them a parable. He said, "The land of a certain rich man produced good crops. (17) So he began to think to himself, 'What should I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' (18) Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and I'll store all my grain and goods in them. (19) Then I'll say to myself, "You've stored up plenty of good things for many years. Take it easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself."' (20) But God told him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you. Now who will get the things you've accumulated?' (21) That's how it is with the person who stores up treasures for himself rather than with God." (International Standard Version, Jesus' words in red)
Luke 12:22-34 Then Jesus told his disciples, "That's why I'm telling you to stop worrying about your life—what you will eat—or about your body—what you will wear, (23) because life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. (24) Consider the crows. They don't plant or harvest, they don't even have a storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds! (25) Can any of you add an hour to the length of your life by worrying? (26) So if you can't do a small thing like that, why worry about other things? (27) Consider how the lilies grow. They don't work or spin yarn, but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. (28) Now if that's the way God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and thrown into an oven tomorrow, how much more will he clothe you—you who have little faith? (29) "So stop concerning yourselves about what you will eat or what you will drink, and stop being distressed, (30) because it is the gentiles who are concerned about all these things. Surely your Father knows that you need them! (31) Instead, be concerned about his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you as well. (32) Stop being afraid, little flock, because your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. (33) "Sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor. Make yourselves wallets that don't wear out—a dependable treasure in heaven, where no thief can get close and no moth can destroy anything. (34) Because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (International Standard Version, Jesus' words in red)
Matthew 6:19-21 Make no store of wealth for yourselves on earth, where it may be turned to dust by worms and weather, and where thieves may come in by force and take it away. (20) But make a store for yourselves in heaven, where it will not be turned to dust and where thieves do not come in to take it away: (21) For where your wealth is, there will your heart be. (Bible In Basic English, Jesus' words in red)
Ecclesiastes 9:11-18 I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all. (12) For man also does not know his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them. (13) This wisdom I have seen also under the sun, and it seemed great to me. (14) There was a little city, and few men in it; and a great king came against it and besieged it, and built huge bulwarks against it. (15) And a poor wise man was found in it, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that poor man. (16) And I said, Wisdom is better than strength; but the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. (17) The words of the wise are heard in quiet more than the cry of him who rules among fools. (18) Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 9:11-18 Here is something else I have learned: The fastest runners and the greatest heroes don't always win races and battles. Wisdom, intelligence, and skill don't always make you healthy, rich, or popular. We each have our share of bad luck. (12) None of us know when we might fall victim to a sudden disaster and find ourselves like fish in a net or birds in a trap. (13) Once I saw what people really think of wisdom. (14) It happened when a powerful ruler surrounded and attacked a small city where only a few people lived. The enemy army was getting ready to break through the city walls. (15) But the city was saved by the wisdom of a poor person who was soon forgotten. (16) So I decided that wisdom is better than strength. Yet if you are poor, no one pays any attention to you, no matter how smart you are. (17) Words of wisdom spoken softly make much more sense than the shouts of a ruler to a crowd of fools. (18) Wisdom is more powerful than weapons, yet one mistake can destroy all the good you have done. (Contemporary English Version)
Nothing is in our own control. We may think that money will make us successful. Or intelligence, experience and education will make us successful. Or maybe we think our talent, practise and skill will make us successful. But we must come to the realization that WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL!
King Solomon ponders this and realizes that winning or losing doesn't seem to be based on having the better communications (runners), weapons, skill or intelligence. It seems to be random. Being successful in the world doesn't seem to follow any logical formula. For instance I know plenty of college graduates who are not successful. They, and their parents, have set themselves up for success by making sure they have all that education can give them but it didn't work. They are having to take jobs at the lowest rung. Or people have been born into money and inherited wealth. Their parents thought all that money would set their children up for a life of success but their children are basically worthless because they never had to work for a living and don't appreciate what they inherited. Or someone who has a fantastic talent such as singing. You would think that this talent would make them successful. And even if they make it to the top, so many become drug addicted, burned out divas.
On the other end of the scale there are the geeks that no one thought would be successful at anything and they create a multi-billion dollar, world changing technological or computer company. Or those who only got a high school education but they end up owner of their own company. Or those who were born in poverty but ended up being successful. There just doesn't seem to be logic to it. We judge success based on what we see, what we think but we don't know everything. Even if we make all the right decisions and do all the right things we may be "losers" in the eyes of the world. We may do all the wrong things and make stupid decisions and yet end up as "winners" in the eyes of the world.
We are not in control. Only God is in control and He is sovereign. This means He makes decisions that we don't always understand. God doesn't need our approval to do anything. He doesn't have to pass it by us and make sure we understand before He implements something. We are not the boss. God is the boss and He is the one with the "bigger picture" perspective. God is the one with knowledge of all the variables that we cannot be aware of. God is the All Knowing, All Powerful, Almighty God.
Disasters befall good and bad people. God knows what He is doing and we don't. For instance, the economy. Our President, our Congressmen, our consultants, our advisers are all totally confused. They don't know what to do to jumpstart the economy. Everything they try seems to go wrong. They are all intelligent people who have a larger grasp on things than I do but they are NOT in control. Meanwhile there are good Christian people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their savings. There are plenty of unsaved people who have lost the same. Tornadoes rip through a town and destroy the entire town. Christians lost their homes and livelihoods and so did the unsaved. Why would God let this go on? Why are good people suffering? We could understand if bad things happened to the unsaved, ungodly people but we can't understand why bad things happen to Christians? Where is God?
We don't have to wonder where God is. We know where He is. God is in control. He is on the throne. He knows what He is doing. He is not obligated to reveal it to us. All we need to know is that He is with us no matter what is happening around us. God has not left us even though it looks like it. We may lose everything in this world but we have never lost Him and He will make sure His people make it to Heaven and eternal glory. We may not have any riches on earth but we can in Heaven and that is eternal. Our lives here are so short compared to eternity. Our troubles here as compared to eternal glory are nothing!
If we can accept this, it is called FAITH! Faith is what pleases God. If we can trust Him even though we don't understand, our faith is rewarded. Faith is true success. Not money, not riches, not rewards and scholarly awards, not "Man of the Year" trophies or "Mother of the Year" plaques. If we can truly trust God and live in faith, we are successful in God's eyes. This is true wisdom.
"...but one sinner destroys much good." - "his own soul by his sins, and the souls of others by his counsels, example, and conversation, which corrupt good manners; so does one sinner in a family, neighbourhood, and town; as one poor wise man does much good, one sinner mars much." - John Gill's Exposition Of The Bible
Let your faith and trust in God shine as an example to others. Let it be a witness and testimony to others. We have too many ungodly people running around making spectacles of themselves and showing out. Others look at them and think, because they are "successful" in the world, that this is what they want to be. Bad role models, bad examples. More and more people want to emulate the worst of mankind.
Ecclesiastes 10:1-3 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. (2) A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left. (3) Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool. (King James Version)
Ecc 10:1-3 Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. (2) A wise man's heart inclines him to the right, but a fool's heart to the left. (3) Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool. (English Standard Bible)
Ecclesiastes 10: 1-3 Dead flies cause the ointment of the perfumer to putrefy [and] send forth a vile odor; so does a little folly [in him who is valued for wisdom] outweigh wisdom and honor. 2 A wise man's heart turns him toward his right hand, but a fool's heart toward his left.3 Even when he who is a fool walks along the road, his heart and understanding fail him, and he says of everyone and to everyone that he is a fool. (Amplified Bible)
A perfumed ointment in those days was costly because it took so much work to get it to it's end state. But let a bacteria-laden fly fall in it and the bacteria will destroy the ointment and instead of a beautiful perfume, it will turn foul. Flies will light on anything from dead bodies to dung and then carry that bacteria on their bodies. They also lay eggs that turn into maggots. In the hot Middle East, flies would have been a pernicious irritant and hard to keep out of everything.
Ablert Barne's Notes On The Bible - "The swarms of flies in the East very soon corrupt and destroy any moist unguent or mixture left uncovered, and pollute a dish of food in a few minutes."
"a little folly" is SIN. Sin may look small and harmless but let it lite in your life and it will easily and quickly ruin everything. Satan can dress it up to look so beautiful, fun, harmless, and easy but it will befoul your life like the fly befouls the perfumed ointment. Sin will lay eggs that turn to maggots that take over your life. It will bring bacteria that takes over and ferments and turns the perfumed ointment into a nasty mess.
God has created you and He has sent His Son to take away your sins. Sin no longer has to live in you and take over your life. Unless you let it. And we all do, it's our human nature. But we don't have to. We don't have to give in to the temptations. Through Jesus Christ, God has changed us and made, from something corrupted by sin, us into a beautiful, fragrant, pure, holy, righteous being. We are forgiven and cleansed from our sins through Jesus Christ. We should strive and desire to remain in that wonderful state. But, too often, we are tempted by something sinful that looks great, feels great, and seems harmless. Only to allow that sin into your life will bring it's consequences. Before you know it, the sin has spawned other sins and it's grown and taken over your life.
The commercials and TV shows make alcohol look like so much fun! Everyone has to take shots, and the laughing never ends, and your dancing on the bar and everyone loves you, and your just having a good time. What is shown less often is the true result of that sin. Vomiting, drunken unprotected sex, urinating on yourself, crawling, car accidents that end in injury or death, men raping unconscious women, alocoholism, losing your family, your job, your self respect due to alcoholism, getting diseases or pregnant from unprotected sex, shame, embarrassment, DT's, liver disease, children who grow up to hate their alcoholic parents... I could go on. Satan dresses it up and makes it look like a big party but the truth is it's anything but funny.
Stan and I went to a NASCAR race one time. During the race, everyone around was drunk. Making fools of themselves, getting in fights, falling all over each other. As we got to the car I noticed one young man was so drunk that he was literally crawling on the ground. He had no idea where he was or where he was going. He had pee'd on himself. He could have been run over and he probably never found his way home. I figured he ended up sleeping in the grass somewhere until he woke up the next morning feeling the worse for wear and needing to find a way home. His friends may have been just as drunk and were glad to be rid of him or worried to death about where he was. And I hope and pray he didn't find his car and try to drive home! What was attractive about that? How does that become "a good time"?
Adam Clark's Commentary On The Bible - "Any putrefaction spoils perfume; and so a foolish act ruins the character of him who has the reputation of being wise and good. Alas! alas! in an unguarded moment how many have tarnished the reputation which they were many years in acquiring! Hence, no man can be said to be safe, till he is taken to the paradise of God."
John Gill's Exposition Of The Entire Bible - "a good name is like precious ointment, valuable and fragrant; sin, which is folly, is like a dead fly; not only light and mean, and base and worthless, but hurtful and pernicious, deadly, and the cause of death; and what may seem little, a peccadillo, or, however, one single act of sin, may injure the character of a wise and honourable man, and greatly expose him to shame and contempt, and cause him to stink in the nostrils of men."
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown Commentary - "The more delicate the perfume, the more easily spoiled is the ointment. Common oil is not so liable to injury. So the higher a man’s religious character is, the more hurt is caused by a sinful folly in him. Bad savor is endurable in oil, but not in what professes to be, and is compounded by the perfumer (“apothecary”) for, fragrance. “Flies” answer to “a little folly” (sin), appropriately, being small (1 Cor 5:6); also, “Beelzebub” means prince of flies. “Ointment” answers to “reputation” (Ecc 7:1; Gen 34:30). The verbs are singular, the noun plural, implying that each of the flies causes the stinking savor."
A wise man will try to do the right thing. He is ready to do the right thing with ease and efficiency. Someone who is right handed is able to perform action easiest by using his right hand. If you want to do something clumsily and badly, you would use the left hand. You would have to think about it to get your left hand to do something that the right hand can do without thought. The right hand is the best exercised and dexterous and therefore the strongest and most ready. (Of course, if you are left handed, the opposite applies.)
A foolish person would do things with ulterior motive. A sinister plan has to be thought up. Twisted thinking. Any good work is done clumsily and awkwardly because it doesn't come naturally.
A fool will proclaim to the world how foolish he is by his outward appearance. As he walks down the road, others will know he is a fool. He might as well wear a sign or scream it at the top of his lungs, "I'M A FOOL!"
John Gill's Exposition Of The Bible - "his folly is manifest to all; he betrays it, by his words and actions, to every man he has to do with; his sins and transgressions, which are his folly, he hides not"
For some modern day examples let's look at the people who proclaim their foolishness and sinfulness. There are those young men who wear their pants down below their butts. Whenever you see that you think how stupid they look or that they are thugs and gang members. They have to walk bowlegged or with one hand hanging on their pants to keep them from falling to the ground. They handicap themselves. My nephew has a lot of policeman friends and he said the reason they wear such baggy, loose clothes is to hide drugs and weapons and shoplifted goods. It's also a sign to others that they think they are in, what they think is a "cool" crowd. Even perfectly nice, Christian young men who have nothing to hide would look like thugs and thieves if they wear those clothes. At the least they look stupid. When I was young you wore things that fit because if you didn't it looked like you were having to wear someone else's clothes and, therefore, were too poor to have your own. These young men look like they are having to wear their older brother's or their father's clothes which indicates hand-me-downs.
Then there are the tattoos and piercings. Tattoos are permanent outwards symbols of what? Gang membership, rough and loose living, wild behavior, sluttiness and loose morals, drunkenness, etc. Used to only rough men would get tattoos and you knew they were wild or had a wild past. Then loose women started getting tattoos. Like somehow they could be just as wild and rough as the men. Then everyone started getting tattoos and permanently marked themselves as open to anything. Piercings also give an outward sign to others that they are weird, out there and probably into drugs.
Of course, I don't mean that everyone with a little butterfly tattoo on their ankle or have pierced ears are spawns of the devil. I mean that the act of tattooing and piercing is usually someone's way of advertising something and what does it advertise? Again, you would save yourself some money if you just wore a cardboard sign around your neck that says, "I'M INTO ANYTHING! I WILL DO ANYTHING! I HAVE NO LIMITS ON SIN!"
And, ladies, it's not just men or boys that advertise their willingness to sin. What about short skirts, see-through blouses, tight shirts, hip hugging low-riders, thongs, etc. What are you advertising? Why would you wear such things? There is only one true, honest answer. To attract men's attentions and give them the idea that you are willing to have sex any way, any time and any where. Your teenage daughter may give you the line of bull that everyone else is doing it and she just likes it. No, the honest and true answer is to attract men and give them the idea of sex. Women may talk themselves into believing it's the fashion and since everyone is doing it, it can't be taken as sexual. But the honest and true answer is they want to attract a man and give the idea that they are ready and willing to have sex with any man that drools their way. I watch soap operas and they have women wearing the tightest, shortest, falling-of-the-shoulder dresses with the super high heels TO WORK! And then expect the men around them to treat them professionally and with respect. That is an unreal expectation. You can't dress like a prostitute and not give men the wrong idea. Again, it's simpler to just hang a sign around your neck lettered with, "COME AND GET IT!"
When you walk down the street, out in public, what will people think about you? Will they think, "There goes an idiot who handicaps herself by wearing 8" high heel shoes"; or, "She must be a prostitute"; or, "He must be one of those drugged up hippies"; or, "He is one of those weird Goths who's into death"; or, "She must be a meth addict"; or, "There goes one of those gang members who will kill someone and end up in prison one day"; etc.
Do you proclaim wisdom and good sense or foolishness by your appearance and actions?
Ecclesiastes 10:4-11 If the spirit of the ruler rises up against you, do not leave your place; for yielding quiets great sinners. (5) There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like a sin which comes from a ruler's presence; (6) foolishness is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. (7) I have seen servants on horses and princes walking as servants on the earth. (8) He who digs a pit shall fall into it; and whoever breaks a hedge, a snake shall bite him. (9) Whoever removes stones shall be hurt with them. He who splits wood shall be endangered by it. (10) If the iron is blunt, and he does not whet the edge, then he must put more strength to it. But wisdom is profitable to direct. (11) Surely the snake will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.
(Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 4-11 If the temper of the ruler rises up against you, do not leave your place [or show a resisting spirit]; for gentleness and calmness prevent or put a stop to great offenses.
5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, like an error which proceeds from the ruler:
6 Folly is set in great dignity and in high places, and the rich sit in low places.
7 I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking like slaves on the earth.
8 He who digs a pit [for others] will fall into it, and whoever breaks through a fence or a [stone] wall, a serpent will bite him.
9 Whoever removes [landmark] stones or hews out [new ones with similar intent] will be hurt with them, and he who fells trees will be endangered by them.
10 If the ax is dull and the man does not whet the edge, he must put forth more strength; but wisdom helps him to succeed.
11 If the serpent bites before it is charmed, then it is no use to call a charmer [and the slanderer is no better than the uncharmed snake]. (Amplified Bible)
Ecclesiastes 10:4-11 Don't give up your job when your boss gets angry. If you stay calm, you'll be forgiven. (5) Some things rulers do are terribly unfair: (6) They honor fools, but dishonor the rich; (7) they let slaves ride on horses, but force slave owners to walk. (8) If you dig a pit, you might fall in; if you break down a wall, a snake might bite you. (9) You could even get hurt by chiseling a stone or chopping a log. (10) If you don't sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use; if you are smart, you'll know what to do. The power to charm a snake does you no good if it bites you anyway. (Contemporary English Version)
Don't act in haste. If the person in authority over you is angry, don't get back in their face. Stay calm, don't resist, don't talk back, don't act in anger and revenge. You shoot yourself in the foot if you quit on the spot. Take a deep breath, remain humble and give soft answers. This gives you time to think coherently and gives the one in authority over you time to cool off. For instance, your boss yells at you about something. If you keep your cool, he is the one who looks like a hot head. More than likely they will soon be ashamed of their behavior, apologize and it won't happen again because they don't want to look that foolish again. But, even if they like being hot heads and arrogant and foolish, your behavior gives you time to think things through clearly and you look good to others which may get you a better position in the company or a better job at another company. I know someone who was harassed by her boss for 2 years before the boss finally fired her. She tried to keep her cool and keep her head down and worked humbly and did a good job despite him. She still ended up losing her job but she was offered a far better job out of the blue. God had seen her situation and how she tried to do the right thing even in a hostile environment and He rewarded her. But if she had reacted in anger the first time or second time (or umpteenth time) her boss had harangued her and jumped back in his face and gave him the cussing he deserved and walked out on the spot with no notice, she would have been the one without an income coming in. Others might have seen her behavior and, not knowing how much he deserved it, have thought she wasn't acting like much of a Christian. And God might have thought she needed a little more sandpapering to rub off her rough edges and hasty temper. Nobody likes the sandpapering process!
It's the same in any situation where someone is in authority over you. Being humble and submissive goes against our human nature. We want to take up for our rights and be able to walk off with our nose in the air. But, God teaches us that humility and submission is spirit of Christianity. Jesus Christ, Himself, was humble before those who thought they were in leadership positions. He submitted Himself to be mocked, tortured and crucified even though He had not sinned. He allowed it so that we could be saved. He was the humble Lamb of God who spoke nothing against His killers. We are to imitate Him in all things which includes learning humility and submission.
James 4:6 In fact, God treats us with even greater kindness, just as the Scriptures say, "God opposes everyone who is proud, but he is kind to everyone who is humble." (Easy To Read Version)
Matthew 23:10-12 And you should not be called 'Master.' You have only one Master, the Messiah. (11) Whoever serves you like a servant is the greatest among you. (12) People who think they are better than others will be made humble. But people who humble themselves will be made great. (Easy To Read Version)
Colossians 3:12-13 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. (13) Don't be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. (Easy To Read Version)
Now, that does not mean to humbly submit to sin. If the person in authority over you commands you to sin, then you must remember who is in the higher position of authority, GOD! You must be humble and willing to obey God as He will never ask you to sin. But there are those who are in authority who would ask you to sin and you have to take a stand. For instance, you are in the military and your commander gives you the command to kill everyone in the village, men, women and children. Do you obey that order? Not knowing all the variables involved, I would say that it would be best to serve God and not man in this situation. You can humbly refuse to obey the order and tell your commander that you cannot do it. If your boss tells you to hire some goons to kill the little old lady who won't sell her house to him, should you obey him? No, because God is your higher "boss" and you must obey him first and foremost.
But, in most situations, you can learn to act humbly and be submissive. Hold your head up, quietly grit your teeth, go home and talk about it with your spouse, pray and pray and pray some more. Then you are able to make clear headed decisions.
Some rulers, leaders, authorities, bosses are terribly unfair. They don't do the right thing and do things the way you think they should do them. It seems like the suck-ups get the promotions even though they are the least capable. Those who are smarter, more experienced or better trained are not always the ones who get the promotions. People aren't always treated according to their merit. It's unfair. They aren't deserving and there seems to be no logical explanation. It's favoritism. Those who should be promoted and in places of leadership are overlooked while those who are least deserving seem to get the leadership positions. It's ludicrous like a king walking like a slave beside a horse while the slave rides the horse as a king. The worthless are exalted. Fools are given dignity while men more fit are given the positions of humility.
Leaders who make such foolish mistakes are apt to have it turned around on them. Like those who build a pit for someone else to fall in, but then falls into it themselves. Or like someone who tries to break in to his neighbor's home or field only to be bitten by a snake. If you try to remove stones in secret with the idea of theft, you will be the one who ends up hurt. If you try to cut down a tree, it might fall on you.
John Gill's Exposition Of The Bible - "That carries them from the quarry, where they are dug; or takes them from a heap, where they lie; or that attempts to pull them out of a building, where they are put; or removes them from places, where they are set as boundaries and landmarks; all which is troublesome, and by which men get hurt; the stones fall upon them, or are too heavy for them, or they do what they should not do, and so bring themselves into trouble"
The idea is that foolish rulers who make stupid mistakes and put idiots into places of leadership are most apt to have it all fall in on them. It will come back to haunt them. What goes around comes around. It will come back and bite you in the butt. They should be wise and take time to think and pray about who to put in positions of leadership and try to pick the most capable and experienced into office. This applies to government, business, organizations and churches. Churches should be careful who they hire as pastors and who they vote in for leaders. It's a big responsibility and should be done in wisdom and prayer.
A dull ax makes the job harder and works you to death. It's important to do the preparation of sharpening your ax so that you work more efficiently. The same is true for a leader. They should use wisdom and prayer to prepare and make decisions that will lead to better efficiency and more productive management.
Ecclesiastes 10:12-15 The words of a wise mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow him. (13) The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is wicked madness. (14) A fool also makes many words; a man knows not what they shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him? (15) The labor of fools wearies him, because he does not know how to go to the city. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 10:12-15 If you talk sensibly, you will have friends; if you talk foolishly, you will destroy yourself. (13) Fools begin with nonsense, and their stupid chatter ends with disaster. (14) They never tire of talking, but none of us really know what the future will bring. (15) Fools wear themselves out-- they don't know enough to find their way home. (Contemporary English Version)
A wise person will speak sensibly and without gossip, slander, foul language, negativity, or evil. The conversation of the wise is gracious and teaches. But the mouth of a fool brings his own destruction. That tidbit of gossip may get around and you will be found out. That foul language just makes you look lazy, stupid and ignorant. That negativity makes people avoid you. Fools don't know how to hold their tongue and all that talk will get them in trouble. It takes wisdom and restraint to hold your tongue and to use your words wisely.
Ecclesiastes 10:16-20 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child and your leaders eat in the morning. (17) Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your leaders eat in due time, for strength, and not for drunkenness! (18) By slothfulness the building decays; and through lowering of the hands the house leaks. (19) Bread is made for laughter, and wine makes merry; but silver answers all things. (20) Do not curse a king, no, not in your thought; and do not curse the rich in your bedroom; for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which has wings shall tell the matter. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 10:16 A country is in for trouble when its ruler is childish, and its leaders party all day long.
17 But a nation will prosper when its ruler is mature, and its leaders don't party too much.
18 Some people are too lazy to fix a leaky roof-- then the house falls in.
19 Eating and drinking make you feel happy, and bribes can buy everything you need.
20 Don't even think about cursing the king; don't curse the rich, not even in secret. A little bird might hear and tell everything. (Contemporary English Version)
The prosperity and health of a people depends on the character of it's leaders. If you have childish, selfish, lazy, greedy rulers then the people suffer. Children cannot think beyond the next minute and they cannot understand the future. It is beyond them to be able to make wise decisions. So they are only interested in fulfilling their whims of the moment. There are some adults who never grow up and they also only think of themselves and what they want. They are foolish and fall into sins easily. But persons who are trained from an early age to think beyond their own selfish desires are more mature. This does not mean their age, but their maturity and wisdom. Some children are wiser than a lot of adults and some adults are sillier than children. It means that those who are smart, wise, hard working, selfless, virtuous, prudent, skillful, industrious are the better rulers. If they have the capability of seeing ahead and working diligently to do the right thing for the right reason, then they would make a good leader.
Money can be used for good or evil. It can be used to party on and wasted on sinful and gross indulgence or for bribes. Or it can be used for the good of many. But the temptation of money is to do the wrong thing with it. Then there are those in authority who will throw money into a black hole only to have it stolen by unscrupulous underlings. I have to think about all the charitable money given by Americans and our government only to have it ended up in the hands of robbers, thieves, extortionists, greedy leaders and pirates (one who takes someone else's property by violence). It's such a waste. When I think about charitable organizations who absorb 75% of donated money into their salaries and perks only to pass on 25% to the needy! Or the education system in our country where billions of dollars are poured only to have the worst educated children in modern history! Or sending food to starving people in Africa only to have planes of food hijacked by local gang members who steal it and sell it while their people starve to death.
Money is an asset to be well managed and not squandered or wasted or stolen or used up for your own pursuit of pleasure. A wise ruler will try to manage the budget wisely and with prayerful consideration.
John Gill's Exposition Of The Bible - "Though he is a child, and unskilful in government, gives himself to his passions and pleasures, and neglects the affairs of the kingdom; yet be so far from rebelling against him, and doing him any injury, or speaking ill of him, as not even to wish him any ill; or, within thine own breast, imprecate any evil upon him, but rather pray for him, wish him well, and do everything to promote the welfare of his person and government, and this both for the Lord's sake, and for conscience's sake"
If we are saddled with a bad boss, leader, authority, manager, President, Governor, Congressman, etc. then we are encouraged to pray for that person. We should not wish him ill. We should not hang him in effigy and hope he dies. We should be respectful of his office. But that does not mean we have to obey his commands if they run contrary to God's commands. We should pray for these people and rely on God to help us. A human being, no matter what their position and no matter how good a person they are, cannot save a country. They may play Messiah but they cannot be the true Messiah. It is impossible for any human being to be perfect and do everything right. We must put our trust in God and God alone and He must be our primary source for all things. My finances are not dependent on the President of the United States or the Federal Reserve Chairman or Congress or my boss or the company I work for or even my own talents and capabilities. My finances are from God and managed by God. My security does not rest on the President, the U.S. Military, my local Police Chief, or my husband or the gun in my bedside table. It rests in God and God alone. I must put God first, obey Him first in all things and trust Him for all I need and all the other things will fall into place as God sees fit. So trust in God and pray for your leaders.
Romans 13:1-7 All of you must obey the government rulers. Everyone who rules was given the power to rule by God. And all those who rule now were given that power by God. (2) So anyone who is against the government is really against something God has commanded. Those who are against the government bring punishment on themselves. (3) People who do right don't have to fear the rulers. But those who do wrong must fear them. Do you want to be free from fearing them? Then do only what is right, and they will praise you. (4) Rulers are God's servants to help you. But if you do wrong, you have reason to be afraid. They have the power to punish, and they will use it. They are God's servants to punish those who do wrong. (5) So you must obey the government, not just because you might be punished, but because you know it is the right thing to do. (6) And this is why you pay taxes too. Those rulers are working for God, and they give all their time to the work of ruling. (7) Give everyone what you owe them. If you owe them any kind of tax, then pay it. Show respect to those you should respect. And show honor to those you should honor. (Easy To Read Version)
1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. (2) Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God. (3) This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Savior. (4) God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth (Contemporary English Version)
Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 Cast your bread on the waters; for you shall find it after many days. 2 Give a share to seven, and also to eight; for you know not what evil shall be on the earth. (Modern King James Version)
Eastern bread was a thin cake that, when put in water, would float like a leaf. So the inference was that it would come back to you on the tide. The current would return it back to you. The bread symbolizes food, what you need to survive. We have to have food, water, air and shelter to live. If we find ourselves blessed with food, we can "cast (it) on the waters". This is seemingly a waste, a foolish act of throwing away something that is needful to our survival or that could be sold for gain. But this scripture is telling us to be generous with our resources even if we don't think there will be any return on our investment. We can trust God that our generosity and charity is not a waste. What we reap, we will sow. If we give extravagantly with no thought to gaining from our gift, God will see to it that we do, in fact, have what we need when we need it. It will return to us. Notice the verse doesn't say, "Cast your gold on the waters" but rather "Cast your bread on the waters". To me, this is saying that everyone has something they can give. Bread was common whereas not everyone had gold. It also tells me that it includes sacrificial giving. Bread is a staple that is needed to survive. But if we trust God for our survival, rather than food, we can give sacrificially and know that God will make sure we have what we need when we need it. We don't just give when we have an abundance, but we give even when it hurts us to give.
If I'm down to my last loaf of bread and I'm hungry, normally I would eat the loaf of bread. But God may be saying, "cast your bread on the waters". I can trust God and give my loaf of bread away. To me that was my last food and now I have nothing but I was cheerful and willing to give it away. It sounds like a waste doesn't it? But God may open a door and provide a miracle that I never expected. For instance, someone invites me over to eat and I end up eating a sumptuous meal. If I had kept that loaf of bread, then I would have had nothing but bread but because I gave it away and trusted God, I ended up with a much better meal. And, if nothing else, God will reward me in heaven with a banqueting table when I get there. So, either way, I'm blessed because I was willing to trust God for my needs and give what I had to someone else.
The second verse tells us to give extravagantly, enough to care for 7 or 8 people. We don't know what may happen tomorrow. Let's say that I have $1,000 today and I feel God calling me to give. I could sit down and count out what bills I have to pay and decide I can only give $10 because I have bills coming due tomorrow. But what if I die during the night or the end time comes and Jesus appears? I will have the $990 dollars in the bank to pay my bills but I'm no longer here to care! If I had given $990 away and kept $10 then I would only have left $10 behind. But what treasures do I have in Heaven? Do I have $10 worth of treasure in Heaven or $990 worth of treasure in Heaven? Give sacrificially! Another way to look at this is give while you can, because one day you may experience hardship and need help. If you had a reputation for being a generous, loving, giving person then others may step in and help you now that you are in want. If you had a reputation of being a mean skinflint that rubbed every nickle twice before letting it go, others won't be so eager to help you when you are in need. "Now he knows how it feels!"; "He got what he deserved!"; "What goes around, comes around!".
There is a balance here. You don't always give everything you have away. That could be irresponsible, an unwise steward of what God entrusts to you. If you have bills to pay, you have to pay them in order to have a good reputation. You don't want others to belittle Jesus Christ because His followers are deadbeats who don't pay their bills. But cultivate the willingness to give and when God directs, GIVE! Tithing 10% is a starting place. God directs us to give this tithe but we can and should give more when God places it on our hearts. And we should be generous and practice hospitality to others.
The Bible exhorts us to be cheerful givers, willing to give extravagantly, generously and sacrificially. This kind of attitude shows that a giver has faith that God will take care of them. We shouldn't give because of what we will get in return (a tax deduction, pats on the back, our name enshrined over the door, a networking connection that will help us in business, etc). We shouldn't give only what is leftover. We shouldn't give because someone makes us feel guilty. We should give because we love and trust God and we want to give. There should be a purity in our motivation and a complete trust that God will take care of our needs. Face it! God gave us everything!He created us and set us in a world that has air, sun, moon, water, food to eat. He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue us from death and eternal hell. He has sent His Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of those who accept Jesus as their personal Savior in order to teach, train and empower us. He has given us His Word in the Bible. We must emulate Him by also having a giving nature. In gratitude we should have a giving nature. From our love for Him, we should have a giving nature.
Romans 8:32 Truly He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Modern King James Version)
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth and this was part of it:
2 Corinthians 9:1-15 I don't need to write you about the money you plan to give for God's people. (2) I know how eager you are to give. And I have proudly told the Lord's followers in Macedonia that you people in Achaia have been ready for a whole year. Now your desire to give has made them want to give. (3) That's why I am sending Titus and the two others to you. I want you to be ready, just as I promised. This will prove that we were not wrong to brag about you. (4) Some followers from Macedonia may come with me, and I want them to find that you have the money ready. If you don't, I would be embarrassed for trusting you to do this. But you would be embarrassed even more. (5) So I have decided to ask Titus and the others to spend some time with you before I arrive. This way they can arrange to collect the money you have promised. Then you will have the chance to give because you want to, and not because you feel forced to. (6) Remember this saying, "A few seeds make a small harvest, but a lot of seeds make a big harvest." (7) Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don't feel sorry that you must give and don't feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. (8) God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. (9) The Scriptures say, "God freely gives his gifts to the poor, and always does right." (10) God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. (11) You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift. (12) What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God's people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. (13) The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honor and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God's people and with everyone else. (14) Now they are praying for you and want to see you, because God used you to bless them so very much. (15) Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words! (Contemporary English Version)
Ecclesiastes 11:3-4 If the clouds are full of rain, they empty on the earth; and if the tree falls toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall be. (4) He who watches the wind shall not sow; and he who pays attention to the clouds shall not reap. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 11:3-4 There are some things you can be sure of. If clouds are full of rain, they will pour water on the earth. If a tree falls--to the south or to the north--then it will stay where it falls. (4) But there are some things that you cannot be sure of. You must take a chance. If you wait for perfect weather, you will never plant your seeds. If you are afraid that every cloud will bring rain, you will never harvest your crops. (Easy To Read Version)
We don't have any control over the weather. We can't control which tree falls or which direction in falls in a storm. So don't base your giving on anything other than what God tells you to do. Don't try to calculate when the best time is, or who is the best receiver, or who deserves it most. Give liberally whenever God directs and don't try to out-think God. For instance, if God directs you to give $100 to the vagrant on the street, give it to him. Don't talk yourself out of it by saying, "He will just use it for alcohol. It would be better to give it to the homeless shelter where he could get help. Why waste money by giving it to a vagrant who might be a drug addict?" If God doesn't prompt you to give to the vagrant, then don't. But if God prompts you to give to him, do it without trying to out-think God. And, just as the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, give without strings attached, without expectations, without trying to control the gift or the receiver. If God is directing your paths and you are being obedient to Him then give as He directs and not as you think it should go.
Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 As you do not know what is the way of the spirit, as how the bones grow in the pregnant woman's womb; even so you do not know the works of God who makes all. (6) In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know what shall be blessed, either this or that, or whether they both shall be fruitful in the same way. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 You don't know where the wind blows. And you don't know how a baby grows in its mother's womb. In the same way, you don't know what God will do--and he makes everything happen. (6) So begin planting early in the morning, and don't stop working until evening. You don't know what might make you rich. Maybe everything you do will be successful. (Easy To Read Version)
There is so much that we don't know or understand! Only God knows! We don't know where someone is on the spiritual journey, or how they got to where they are today, what their experiences are, what has shaped them, what their thoughts are. Nor do we know what our future holds. We may be prosperous today but in want tomorrow. We may have our family together today but tomorrow we may be old and all alone. It is not for us to decide where to give, who to give to, how it should be used, or when it should be given. It should be up to God who, alone, knows all things and has the wisdom to direct us correctly. What is important is to be willing to give and to then give cheerfully whenever God calls us to give. Give sacrificially knowing that God has us in His Hands.
Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 Also the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun; (8) but if a man lives many years, and rejoices in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity. (9) Rejoice, in your youth, young man; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. (10) Therefore remove vexation from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh; for childhood and prime of life are vanity. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. (8) So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity. (9) Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. (10) Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. (English Standard Version)
Ecclesiastes 11:8-10 You should enjoy every day of your life, no matter how long you live. But remember that you will die, and you will be dead much longer than you were alive. And after you are dead, you cannot do anything. (9) So young people, enjoy yourselves while you are young. Be happy. Do whatever your heart leads you to do. Do whatever you want, but remember that God will judge you for everything you do. (10) Don't let your anger control you, and don't let your body lead you to sin. People do foolish things in the dawn of life while they are young. (Easy To Read Version)
In these last verses of Chapter 11, King Solomon summarizes the chapter by saying we should enjoy the good days. It is pleasant to sit with the sun on your face, to be able to see the sunrise. We should enjoy and be grateful for the days we have. There will come a time of darkness. In every life, we have good days and bad days, good years and bad years. We have to take the good with the bad. So, on those good days, during those prosperous times, when you have health and family... make the most of it! Be a generous giver, be a grateful person, gives thanks and praise to God, enjoy and treasure your family so that when the bad days come, you will be in God's Hands. God will take care of you because you have trusted and relied on Him and been a vessel He could use to bless others. And once your life is over, you can no longer come back to take care of unfinished business. Tell your wife that you love her because if you die, you cannot come back and tell her. Raise your children with love and cherish them because once you die, you cannot come back to make amends. Be kind to those around you and be a giver because, once you're dead, you cannot come back to say "I'm sorry". There are no do-overs. While on this earth, you can store treasures in Heaven by doing what God asks you to do and showing the fruits of His Spirit in you (love, joy, peace, patience, self control, kindness, goodness) to others. But once you are dead, you cannot come back in order to gather these treasures. Your time of sowing treasures is over.
With many of us, our days of youth, strength, health, vigor will pass away as we age. We don't know when we will die, how we will die, where we will die... that is beyond our control. It is in the Hands of God. But we may be that one who has aged and are no longer in good health. We may be that one in the nursing home. We may be that one who is on dialysis or suffering from diabetes. We may be the one who is shut-in and has no family who cares for us. We may be the one that is all alone in the world having outlived family members. We may be the one who no longer has a strong mind, who is vulnerable to those who would take advantage of us. We may be the one who becomes senile and unable to remember anything or anyone. When we are disabled, old, unable to defend ourselves or take care of ourselves, we will need the help of others. We will be forced to rely on others to help us up, to dress us, feed us, prepare our meals, take us to the doctor, pick up our medicines, pay our bills.
I am particularly disgusted with people who take advantage of the elderly and handicapped and children. These members of our society are the most helpless and vulnerable. We should be taking care of them and cherish them as though they were fine gold instead of abusing them, stealing from them, molesting them, starving them, withholding medical care from them, ignoring them. It shows our depravity and the degradation of our society when we abuse the most vulnerable in it. And our elderly have lived their lives and made their contributions to our society (good or bad). If it was left to mankind, we would use them up, throw them away and euthanize them when they no longer serve our purpose. Which is shameful because, one day, it could be YOU who is used up, thrown away and euthanized! But God particularly directs us to take care of the widows and orphans, to raise our children lovingly, to give generously to those in need and to make sure your family is cared for no matter what age they are. If it weren't for God in this world, we would be helplessly evil and without any restraint. So it is because of God's Spirit in this world (through His people, the believers in Jesus Christ) that there is any kindness, goodness, love, and charity without evil motivations. We should continue this work while we can. Be rich in good works while you are able. And God will see to it that when you are no longer able, there will be someone who will help you. We can trust Him! We cannot trust mankind!
There are many ways to give, not just money. We can give our time, our prayers, our talents, our abilities, our strength, our kindness, our energy. Can you visit someone in a nursing home? Can you prepare a meal for your neighbor who just had surgery? Can you watch your neighbor's dog and feed it while they are on vacation? Can you babysit someone's children while they look for a job? Can you volunteer for a charity or church activity? Can you help during Vacation Bible School? Can you pick up your parent's medication and divvy out the dosages for them? Can you donate money for a needy child to go to a Christian summer camp? Can you give groceries to the needy single mother who works at the convenience store? Can you give a smile, kind word and leave a good tip for the hardworking waitress? Can you offer to pray for someone who is having a bad day? Can you share your garden produce with your co-worker who particularly loves fresh tomatoes?
And can you do this with no strings attached and no expectations? Without handing out IOU's or keeping a tab in your mind? Can you do this without an ulterior motive or without an agenda?
Then you are storing up treasures in Heaven which are eternal. You are storing up blessing from God. You will please God with your trust and faith in Him as your provider. You will be sowing so that you can reap when you need it.
So, enjoy your life with the check of knowing that what you do is seen by God, judged by Him and will or won't reap eternal rewards!
The last chapter
Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 Rejoice, in your youth, young man; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. (10) Therefore remove vexation from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh; for childhood and prime of life are vanity. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days do not come, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them. (2) So long as the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, are darkened, or the clouds return after rain, (3) in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men are bowed, and the grinders cease because there are few, and those who look out of the windows are darkened, (4) and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and you shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music are silenced; (5) also they are afraid of the high place, and terrors along the way, and the almond tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goes to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets; (6) or ever the silver cord is not loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern; (7) then the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it. (8) Vanity of vanities, says the preacher; all is vanity. (9) And more than that, the preacher was wise; he still taught the people knowledge. Yes, he listened, and looked, and set in order many proverbs. (10) The preacher sought to find out pleasing words; and words of truth written by the upright. (11) The words of the wise are like goads; yes, their collected words are like nails driven home; they are given from one Shepherd. (12) And further, by these, my son, be warned: The making of many books has no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep His commandments. For this is the whole duty of man. (14) For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good, or whether evil. (Modern King James Version)
Ecclesiastes 12:1-13 Remember your Creator while you are young, before the bad times come--before the years come when you say, "I have wasted my life." (2) Remember your Creator while you are young, before the time comes when the sun and the moon and the stars become dark to you--before problems come again and again like one storm after another. (3) At that time your arms will lose their strength. Your legs will become weak and bent. Your teeth will fall out, and you will not be able to chew your food. Your eyes will not see clearly. (4) You will become hard of hearing. You will not hear the noise in the streets. Even the stone grinding your grain will seem quiet to you. You will not be able to hear the women singing. But even the sound of a bird singing will wake you early in the morning because you will not be able to sleep. (5) You will be afraid of high places. You will be afraid of tripping over every small thing in your path. Your hair will become white like the flowers on an almond tree. You will drag yourself along like a grasshopper when you walk. You will lose your desire, and then you will go to your eternal home. The mourners will gather in the streets as they carry your body to the grave. (6) Remember your Creator while you are young, before the silver rope snaps and the golden bowl is crushed like a jar broken at the well, like a stone cover on a well that breaks and falls in. (7) Your body came from the earth. And when you die, it will return to the earth. But your spirit came from God, and when you die, it will return to him. (8) Everything is so meaningless. The Teacher says that it is all a waste of time! (9) The Teacher was very wise. He used his wisdom to teach the people. He very carefully studied and arranged many wise teachings. (10) The Teacher tried very hard to find the right words, and he wrote the teachings that are true and dependable. (11) Words from the wise are like sharp goads. When these sayings are written down and saved, they can be used to guide people, just as a shepherd uses a sharp stick to make his sheep go the right way. (12) So, son, study these sayings, but be careful about other teachings. People are always writing books, and too much study will make you very tired. (13) Now, what should we learn from everything that is written in this book? The most important thing a person can do is to respect God and obey his commands, because he knows about everything people do--even the secret things. He knows about all the good and all the bad, and he will judge people for everything they do. (Easy To Read Version)
Ecclesiastes 12: 1-14 Remember [earnestly] also your Creator [that you are not your own, but His property now] in the days of your youth, before the evil days come or the years draw near when you will say [of physical pleasures], I have no enjoyment in them— 2 Before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened [sight is impaired], and the clouds [of depression] return after the rain [of tears]; 3 In the day when the keepers of the house [the hands and the arms] tremble, and the strong men [the feet and the knees] bow themselves, and the grinders [the molar teeth] cease because they are few, and those who look out of the windows [the eyes] are darkened; 4 When the doors [the lips] are shut in the streets and the sound of the grinding [of the teeth] is low, and one rises up at the voice of a bird and the crowing of a cock, and all the daughters of music [the voice and the ear] are brought low; 5 Also when [the old] are afraid of danger from that which is high, and fears are in the way, and the almond tree [their white hair] blooms, and the grasshopper [a little thing] is a burden, and desire and appetite fail, because man goes to his everlasting home and the mourners go about the streets or marketplaces. 6 [Remember your Creator earnestly now] before the silver cord [of life] is snapped apart, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern [and the whole circulatory system of the blood ceases to function]; 7 Then shall the dust [out of which God made man’s body] return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God Who gave it. 8 Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities, says the Preacher. All is futility (emptiness, falsity, vainglory, and transitoriness)! 9 And furthermore, because the Preacher was wise, he [Solomon] still taught the people knowledge; and he pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought acceptable words, even to write down rightly words of truth or correct sentiment. 11 The words of the wise are like prodding goads, and firmly fixed [in the mind] like nails are the collected sayings which are given [as proceeding] from one Shepherd. 12 But about going further [than the words given by one Shepherd], my son, be warned. Of making many books there is no end [so do not believe everything you read], and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 13 All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil. (Amplified Version)
Here is the old king's summary. King Solomon wraps up his philosophy. It's hard for young people to think beyond their present but King Solomon is warning them that as long as they are breathing, they will age. They too will be old. He admonishes them not to forget this and don't waste their time. He wasted a lot of time "investigating" and "experimenting" with everything under the sun and he only found out that it was worthless. He seems to be saying, "Learn from me, learn from my mistakes."
Unless we die young or the Lord Jesus Christ comes back, we will all age. Age is a bitch. I'm in my 50's now and I look back at how strong my body was when I was young. How much energy I had, how much I was able to accomplish in a day compared to now. I also marvel at how fast time flies. We are only young once and it's a fleeting time. King Solomon would have you know that you shouldn't waste your youth, your energy, your time in worthless and sinful pursuits. You should be using your strength, your youth, your energy, your talents, your time in doing things that please God and add to your heavenly treasure! One day, we will all have gray hair. You young men and women will have gray hair and wrinkles. You'll add weight and get stooped. It happens to us all. You are not exempt and it's pretty stupid if you think you are. For those of you who make fun of elderly and disabled people... you will someday be those elderly and disabled people. For those of you who get aggravated and irate at slow elderly drivers... you will be that slow elderly driver before you know it. You too will experience age related illnesses like loss of hearing, diabetes, senility, etc. You may be stooped by osteoporosis, you may lose your eyesight, you may lose your teeth, you may have broken hips and need knee replacements, you may suffer from insomnia. Don't think you are somehow charmed and won't age or have age related problems. It's one of those common human experiences. If you live long enough, you age out. When it's your turn to be in a wheelchair, or relegated to a nursing home, you might wish you had spent your time in better ways. When you become totally dependent on others to care for you like when you were an infant, you might wish you had put God first and family second instead of parties and temporary drinking buddies. There were times when you thought those buddies were you best friends and would always be there for you. WRONG! You will be lucky if you have a couple of friends who will visit you occasionally. Those high school BFFs will be long gone. Those college roommates and party friends will be deep in their own lives. Those work pals and golfing friends will forget you. Those military buds that would have rushed into enemy fire to try and save you will have their own lives and age related problems. Those girlfriends and boyfriends that you were so passionate about will be gone and involved with their own families. Friends come and go. Even church friends come and go. They should help you out some but you can't expect them to roll you around the mall, take you doctor appointments, wipe your butt, test your blood sugar, give you your medicines, look after your finances, keep up with your litany of ailments, give you sponge baths, etc. Only family can do that and should do that so I hope you are treating your family as you want them to treat you! If you ignore your elderly parents then expect your kids to ignore you. What goes around comes around. If you mistreat your wife and run around on her, don't expect her to stick around when you are dying of a terminal illness. If you whine and guilt and manipulate your children, then don't expect them want to be around you. If you were always impatient, aggravated, rude, refused to tolerate any weakness, just plain mean, then you really can't expect any better treatment from others. It's the old Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
But you say, "I may have ignored my parents but they are dead now so they can't 'ignore' me now that I'm old." Sure enough, your parents are gone but your children saw how you treated your parents and learned how to ignore the elderly instead of having compassion on them. Or maybe you don't have children so you think you can expect others to treat you better because nobody knows what you did back then. But don't forget, God knows how you treated others in your lifetime and you may reap what you sowed. If you are being treated kindly and well by others in your time of need then get down on your knees and thank God who extended mercy to you by moving upon someone else's heart to be merciful. The word "mercy" means that God withheld the judgement and wrath that we deserved due to our sins. We deserve hell but God extended mercy by sending His Son, Jesus, to die for us so we could go to Heaven.
God loves us. And when we accept His Son, Jesus, as our Savior, we become one of His Children. As one of His Children, He will take care of us. Stan and I don't have children but I know that we will either die before we get too old to take care of ourselves, or He will arrange for us to be taken care of. He will make sure we are cared for if we get too old. Why? Because we are His Children and we have tried to live our lives in ways that would please Him. We try to treat our parents with honor and love. We try to treat our family and friends with love and support them anyway they need. And the end result will be we will spend eternity in Heaven!
So my devotion and love are to the One who will never leave or forsake me, GOD! He will never grow old. He will never get sick and die. He will never let me down. I may not understand all that He does but He's God and I don't have to understand everything He does. He doesn't have to clear anything with me before He does something! He is always there and never changes. He is the Rock. He is the same today, to me, as He was to my great great grandparents back in the 1800's! Why would I waste my time in doing anything but pleasing Him.
That doesn't mean that I can't have friends and good times. That means that I have friends and good times with HIM and in ways that please HIM. Instead of going on a drinking binge and having affairs, I can go on a picnic with my family and thank God for the time we had together and the beauty we are surrounded by and for the food He provided us with. Instead of spending my money on drugs, I can give my money the way God directs me to in order to help someone else. Instead of focusing everything I have towards some goal of becoming a rich superstar, I can focus my time, talent, energy, health, attention, money on things that would please God. I should be doing it because I love HIM but the Bible also says that I'm racking up treasures in Heaven.
Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. (20) But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Modern King James Version, Jesus word's in red)
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 God was kind and let me become an expert builder. I laid a foundation on which others have built. But we must each be careful how we build, (11) because Christ is the only foundation. (12) Whatever we build on that foundation will be tested by fire on the day of judgment. Then everyone will find out if we have used gold, silver, and precious stones, or wood, hay, and straw. (14) We will be rewarded if our building is left standing. (15) But if it is destroyed by the fire, we will lose everything. Yet we ourselves will be saved, like someone escaping from flames.
When you get old you don't want to have regrets.
"I wish I had married and stayed faithful to a good and godly wife."
"I wish I had raised my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord so they would be a source of pride and comfort to me now"
"I wish I hadn't spent my youth in worthless living which added up to many regrets and shames now in my maturity."
"Back when I was a beautiful young woman, why did I cheapen myself and give up my virtue and good reputation for worthless, good-for-nothing men?"
"Why did I shackle myself to godless, worthless man and have children by him only to have him leave and the children and I suffer?"
"Why did I willfully take drugs only to become a drug addict? Why did I do it? Now I've lost so many years as a slave to addiction! I have destroyed my life as well as my loved ones."
"Why did I enslave myself to my job? I pushed everyone away in my pursuit of money and now what can money do for me? I'm lonely, unloved."
Aging is hard enough without having regrets and shameful pasts to deal with too. Some people deal with it by sticking their heads in the sand and refusing to see themselves as older. They still think they are the gorgeous hunks or delicious Barbie dolls they were when they were 20 yrs old. Or they try to make themselves look like that. Nothing is sadder than seeing someone who refuses to age gracefully. All the plastic surgery in the world won't make them young again and many times it makes them look ghoulish and foolish. It's so unnatural that it's scary.
Ecclesiastes 12: 6 Remember your Creator while you are young, before the silver rope snaps and the golden bowl is crushed like a jar broken at the well, like a stone cover on a well that breaks and falls in.
We have seen what happens as we age, next follow what takes place in the body, in order to produce what is called death, or the separation of body and soul.
1. The silver cord - The medulla oblongata then the spinal cord is the lower half of the brain stem that is encased in the vertebrae. The medulla oblongata contains the cardiac, respiratory, vomiting and blood vessels and deals with autonomic, involuntary functions, such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. From the medulla all the nerves proceed, as itself does from the brain. This is termed a cord, and a silver cord, from its color, as it is silver gray; and from its preciousness. This is said to be loosed; as the nervous system becomes debilitated. The last loosing being the fall of the under jaw, the invariable and never-failing evidence of immediate death; a few struggles more, and the soul is dismissed from its clay tenement.
2. The golden bowl be broken - The brain contained in the cranium, or skull; here called a bowl. The skull is the container of the brain; and golden because of its color, and because of its exceeding preciousness as has been noticed in the former case. Broken - be rendered unfit to perform its functions, neither supplying nor distributing any nervous energy. Brain dead.
3. Or the pitcher be broken at the fountain - The vena cava, which brings back the blood to the right ventricle of the heart, here called the fountain, the spring whence the water gushes up; properly applied here to the heart, which by its systole and diastole (contraction and expansion) sends out, and afterwards receives back, the blood; for all the blood flows from, and returns back to, the heart.
4. The wheel broken at the cistern - The great aorta, which receives the blood from the left ventricle of the heart, and distributes it to the different parts of the system. These may be said, as in the case of the brain above, to be broken, i.e., rendered useless. Through the loosening of the silver cord, the total relaxation of the nervous system, the heart becomes incapable of dilatation and contraction, so that the blood is no longer cycled. Thus, then, the blood becomes stagnate; the lungs cease to respire; the blood is no longer oxidized, all motion, voluntary and involuntary, ceases; the body, the house of the immortal spirit, is no longer tenable, and the soul takes its flight into the eternal world. The man D-I-E-S! -Adam Clark's Commentary On The Bible
The termination of life is signified generally by the snapping of the silver cord by which the lamp hangs from the ceiling; by the dashing in pieces of the cup or reservoir of oil; by the shattering of the pitcher used to bring water from the spring; and by the breaking of the wheel by which a bucket is let down into the well. - Barnes Notes On The Bible
or the golden bowl be broken
or the pitcher be broken at the fountain
or the wheel broken at the cistern
Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. " (King James Version, Jesus' words in red)
If you think that there are other ways to get to heaven, then you aren't a Christian.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. " (King James Version, Jesus' words in red)
If you believe you can be good enough to go to Heaven without accepting Jesus as your Savior, then you aren't a Christian.
Matthew 10:32-33 "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (33) But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. " (King James Version, Jesus' words in red)
Romans 3:22-25 God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. (23) All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. (24) But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. (25) God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life's blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus. (Contemporary English Version)
You can believe what you like but if you don't believe Jesus is the only way to salvation then don't call yourself a Christian because the Bible tells us that Jesus is the only way.
The last two verses are King Solomon's advice, fear God and keep His commandments. That is our purpose, that should be our focus. It is the way to blessing on this earth and for eternity. We will still have our troubles in this life but we will have a much better life and reap for ourselves rewards in Heaven if we fear God and keep His commandments.
Sometimes I think human beings sit down one sunny morning with a pencil and a piece of paper and start a listing all the things they can do to complicate, even ruin their lives. And then they begin to do these things and check them off the list!
How To Ruin My Life and Insure Regrets
1) Have sex outside of marriage.
2) Get drunk regularly and call it a good time.
3) Try drugs, take a lot of them.
4) Get involved with the wrong kinds of people
Don't think I haven't made some of these same mistakes and reaped some shame myself. I have a few regrets but if it weren't for God, I'd have quite a few more! And I'm sure I'll make some more. Thank God for His forgiveness. That is God's love, He forgives. All we have to do is repent and ask His forgiveness. If we are His through Jesus Christ, we are forgiven whenever we ask. Thank You Jesus!!!!
But here is God trying to tell us that these things will cause us heartache and pain, misery and shame. He spells it out in His Word and we still do stupid things. Life is going to hand us enough problems without us making them for ourselves! It behooves us to read God's Word and follow His commandments. It benefits US! It's for our good! It blesses us! It gives us a better life!
The term, "fear God", doesn't mean to be afraid of Him as in horror. It means to give Him the reverence, respect and love due Him as the Creator and Savior. It means to realize what our life and eternity would be without Him and His Plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ. It means to worship Him as the Supreme Being and the One who holds our life and our eternity in His Hands!
When we die, we will meet God face to face. There will be judgement. He will separate the sheep from the goats then. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and who's names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be separated and sent to Heaven to be evermore with the King of Kings!
Romans 8:1 So now anyone who is in Christ Jesus is not judged guilty. (Easy To Read Version)
Romans 5:1-2 We have been made right with God because of our faith. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (2) Through our faith, Christ has brought us into that blessing of God's grace that we now enjoy. And we are very happy because of the hope we have of sharing God's glory. (Easy To Read Version)
Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Master, our names are written in that wonderful, merciful book! Never to be erased!
Those who refused to accept Jesus Christ as Savior will be separated and sent to hell and eternal damnation. The Great White Throne judgment is only for the damned, none of their names are written in the Book of Life.
There is also the Bema Seat judgment (The Judgment Seat of Christ), which will be only for Christians. Yes, we are saved! Yes, we are living in Heaven! While salvation is a gift, there are rewards given for faithfulness in the Christian life and loss of rewards for unfaithfulness. Rewards become one of the great motives in a Christian’s life or should. Of course, we should serve the Lord out of love and for His glory but understanding the nature of rewards will help us do that. The fact remains that the Bible promises us rewards. God gives us salvation. It is a gift through faith, but He rewards His children for good works. God graciously supplies the means by which we may serve Him. Indeed, He works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure. He give us His grace but the decision to serve, and diligence used, are our responsibility and our contribution and God sees this as reward-able. Our action is obedience.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Like an expert builder I built the foundation of that house. I used the gift that God gave me to do this. Other people are building on that foundation. But everyone should be careful how they build. (11) The foundation that has already been built is Jesus Christ, and no one can build any other foundation. (12) People can build on that foundation using gold, silver, jewels, wood, grass, or straw. (13) But the work that each person does will be clearly seen, because the Day will make it plain. That Day will appear with fire, and the fire will test everyone's work. (14) If the building they put on the foundation still stands, they will get their reward. (15) But if their building is burned up, they will suffer loss. They will be saved, but it will be like someone escaping from a fire. (Easy to Read Version)
1 Corinthians 4:5 So don't judge anyone now. The time for judging will be when the Lord comes. He will shine light on everything that is now hidden in darkness. He will make known the secret purposes of our hearts. Then the praise each person should get will come from God. (Easy To Read Version)
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 But whether we are at home with the Lord or away from him, we still try our best to please him. (10) After all, Christ will judge each of us for the good or the bad that we do while living in these bodies. (Easy To Read Version)
John 3:16-21 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. (18) He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. (19) And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (21) But he who practices truth comes to the Light so that his works may be revealed, that they exist, having been worked in God." (Modern King James Version, Jesus' words in red)
King Solomon had learned the best of life is to be had in God and obeying His Commandments. We have so much wonderful things to look forward to in Jehovah! He enriches our lives and gives us an eternity of Heaven! So use your time well. Use your energy well! Use your talents well! Use your money well! Use your life well! To God's Glory and for your benefit!