Friday, June 22, 2018

FUNERALS OR FESTIVALS?

Eccl. 7:2,4  It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die and you should think about it while there is time. A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now.  NLT

      At first glance, this verse may not make a lot of sense.  Most of us would choose to go to a party than a funeral.  Funerals are generally not a fun place to be.  It is especially true if it is for someone who is very close to your heart.

       Yet, when we think about it, we would have to admit that the value of a funeral to our souls far outweighs any good times we may have at parties.  At funerals we are faced with the reality of our mortality.  No matter how much we don’t want to think about it, we are all going to die someday.  When we die, there is no coming back and doing life over.  We don’t get a second chance to get it right.  We don’t get another chance to get ready to face God.  We are vividly reminded of the fact that there are no guarantees as to how long we shall live. Death is but a breath away for us.

     Wisdom tells us to think about these things.  We still have hope as long as we have breath.  The Lord has given us all the information and time we need to be ready to die.  He waits patiently for us to take advantage of our opportunities, but when it is our time to die, there is no more patience.  The Lord has determined how long we shall live and wise is he who understands this and doesn’t wait until it is too late.

       If you were to die today, would you be ready to face God?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

ENJOY WHAT YOU HAVE

Eccl. 6:9 Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless; it is like chasing the wind. NLT

       Life would be so much easier and less complicated if we would learn this important lesson in life.  We can eliminate most of the stress in living if we could learn to enjoy what we have in the moment instead of pining for what we don’t have.  Most people are simply not content with how their life is now and they long for more and better things that they don’t have.  Let’s be honest about it.  Isn’t this why we spend so much of our lives working at jobs we mostly do not enjoy?  We work so that we can get what we don’t have so that we can have better lives than we have now.  The sad thing of it is, usually when we get what we want we discover that it either is not what we really want or it does not give us the pleasure and satisfaction we thought it would.

      The world runs on dreams.  We are constantly bombarded with things we don’t have and think we might want.  We think about those things and begin to develop plans on how to get them.  Many are willing to see their dreams become a reality at any cost.  Many will sell out their souls in order to pursue their dreams.  What one does not have becomes far more important than one’s relationship with God.  Life is wasted away chasing after meaningless things.

       A much better way to live life is to learn how to enjoy what you do have in the moment you are in.  The only way we can do this is to learn to enjoy the presence of God in our lives.  If we are not living in Christ, there is nothing in the world that will ever satisfy the soul.  Life will be nothing but a meaningless chasing after that which will always disappoint us.  Without Christ our dreams will defeat us.  Only Jesus can bring us peace and contentment.  Only Jesus can give life today and always meaning. 

      Don’t put off enjoying life today in the pursuit of something that will not bring you lasting enjoyment once you obtain it.  Live in the presence of Christ and each day will bring you pleasure as His grace unfolds in your life.  Knowing that your soul is right with God alone can hold you steady in life regardless of the circumstances you are in.  Each day, each moment, can be a blessing to be enjoyed when Christ is in it.

        If you must dream, dream about the life Christ is preparing for you in heaven and live in preparation for that life.  Life in Christ is the only life worth living for.  It is the only life you can really find enjoyment in that lasts a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

WEALTH FROM GOD

Eccl. 5:19  And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it.  To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God.  NLT

     What is wealth from God?  I believe it is far more than material wealth.  It may include that, but not necessarily so.  There are a multitude of believers who have never enjoyed the riches of earth and never will.  Wealth from God is far more precious than the things of earth. 

     Wealth from God begins with a relationship with Him.  It is knowing that our sins are forgiven, forgotten, and forsaken.  It is living in peace with God and man.  It is the wondrous gift of the Holy Spirit who actively works within us to keep us on a holy path to God.  It is a hope that is certain, built on the promises of God himself.  It is access to His Word and the understanding He gives us as we read it.  It is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit when we sin against God.  It is God’s mercy and grace.  It is the fellowship of other believers to encourage us, teach us, and inspire us to a deeper walk with Him.  Wealth from God is everything He provides for us to have eternal life.

     Wealth from God does indeed often include the blessings of life on earth.  We owe to God our resources for living, our health, our work, and our gifts to do the work He gives us to do.  We are so blessed to be who we are and to do what we do.  It should cause all of us to daily be grateful for our lives.  We don’t know how long our health will hold up and we don’t know when changes will come in our lives that will drive us to our knees in despair; so we need to enjoy all that the Lord provides daily with thanksgiving and praise. 

       Most of us will face adversity in life.   Things do not always go the way we want them to or the way they have gone before.  The Lord sometimes withholds His blessings from us so that we will depend on Him and not our blessings.  Sometimes we have to lose what we have in order to appreciate God and what He gives.  We grow the most in faith through adversity, not through affluence.

      Dear friend, no matter what your circumstances may be today, accept it with gratitude before God.  Fix your eyes upon the Lord and praise Him for His blessings.  Learn what He is teaching you in this moment of your life.  If you have much, use what you have to honor the Lord and serve Him.  If you have little, trust Him for all that you need to see you through.  He will supply all your needs as you walk by faith in Him.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

NEVER ENOUGH MONEY

Eccl. 5:10-11  Those who love money will never have enough.  How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness!  The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it.  So what is the advantage of wealth—except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!  NLT

       Those who love money have a lot more problems than they ever imagined.  The love of money is insatiable.  There is no end to the want for more.  It drives a person to do things that they otherwise may not do in order to get more.  It breeds selfishness.  It hinders a person from getting close to God.  It keeps people from getting close to other people.  It causes a person to take advantage of others for personal gain.  Money takes on such prominence in one’s life that nothing else really matters.  Those obsessed with money find they can’t really trust anyone like they should and need to.

       In addition to money becoming a driving force in one’s life, it deceives one into thinking that there is a magical amount that once obtained will make a person happy.  It is absurd to think that anything but God can make one happy. 

       Also, the more money a person has, the more people there will be to come alongside of you to help you spend it.  People come out of the woodwork when they discover you have money.  Our world is very adept at promoting ways for us to spend whatever money we have.  People everywhere make all kinds of promises about how they can help make your life better if you give them money.  People take advantage of people with wealth all the time.  The allurement of being able to make more money by giving away money entices many to make foolish decisions.  There are those who lay a guilt trip on people of wealth in order to get money from them. 

       So, what indeed is the value of obtaining much wealth?  It will never satisfy the longing of the soul for peace and contentment.  It will never deliver on its promise to make one happy.  It can never fill the place of God in the heart.  Only those who find their peace, contentment and joy in Christ will find true happiness.  Only in Christ can one find a reason to live.  Only in Christ does one discover how to deal with money in a way that both pleases the Lord and brings a sense of pleasure to the soul. 

       If you are driven by a desire for money, ask the Lord to change your heart’s desire today to a desire for Him.  Ask the Lord to help you put Him above all things.  Ask Him to take His rightful place in your heart.  Delight yourself in the Lord and you will find what you are searching for in life, both now and eternally.

Monday, June 18, 2018

KEEP YOUR PROMISES

 
Eccl. 5:4-6a So when you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools.  Keep all the promises you make to him.  It is better to say nothing than to promise something that you don’t follow through on.  In such cases, your mouth is causing you to sin.  NLT

      We need to take what we say to God seriously.  Many make promises to God they never keep.  There may be times of great stress and difficulty and you may promise God that if He would get you out of the mess you are in that you would devote yourself to Him in ways you never have before.  You may promise Him full reign of your heart.  You may promise Him your devoted service.  We make all kind of promises to God, but they are meaningless if we don’t keep them. In fact, they are much more than broken promises; God declares them to be sin.

       What kind of promises have you made to God?  Have you kept them?  Take a moment and ask the Lord to remind you of the promises you have made to Him.  Maybe you have forgotten all about them over time, but if you ask Him to, the Lord will remind you of them.  God commands you to keep your word to Him.  If your situation has changed and it is no longer feasible or possible to keep your promise, ask the Lord to forgive you and help you to not make promises you won’t keep from now on.

      Why would we expect God to keep His promises to us if we don’t keep our promises to Him?  A person who loves someone does not make empty promises.  God commands truthfulness from His children and we are not being truthful if we make empty promises to Him.

       It is far better to keep silent and not say anything at all to the Lord than it is to make promises you don’t keep.  Don’t sin against the Lord by not keeping your word to Him.  If you need to ask the Lord to put a zip on your lip, do it.  Eternity is a long time to think about the empty promises you have made to Him and not kept.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

SILENT WORSHIP

Eccl. 5:1-2 As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut! Don’t be a fool who doesn’t realize that mindless offerings to God are evil. And don’t make rash promises to God, for he is in heaven and you are only here on earth. So, let your words be few.  NLT

      Wow.  How many of us are in churches where silence is a good thing?  It seems like the church today is more about noise and busyness than it is silence and meditation.  We have gotten to the point where we are uncomfortable in the quiet.  We surround ourselves with noise and chatter so much that we just don’t know how to wait patiently before God anymore. Yes, there are churches that practice silence where the soul can reflect on her standing before God.  But, it is not the practice of most churches.

We are reminded in today’s verses that it is better to be quiet and listen than it is to always be talking.  All of us think we have profound things to say, but do we really need to say them?  Why is it that we don’t keep our mouths shut more than we do?  We are not learning anything if we are talking.  We won’t hear what God is saying unless we are listening and not talking.  Sure, there are times in which we add valuable insights to what is being taught, but we benefit more from listening and learning than we do by talking all the time.

      When we are in the presence of God, it is important that we don’t talk too much and make Him promises that we can’t, or won’t keep.  We sometimes say things in the emotions of the moment that we later realize were rash and we live to regret it.  It is foolish to make promises to God that we don’t keep.  God holds us accountable for the things we promise to Him. 

      We wonder why it is that we don’t hear from God like we should.  We wonder why it is that there seems to be little real sense of God’s presence in our worship services.  Could it be that it’s because we have forgotten what it is like to be still and know that the Lord, He is God?  They that wait on the Lord shall be renewed in their souls and receive strength for their journey of life. 

Whether it is in public or private worship, put yourself in a position where you can hear from God and you will.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Eccl. 4:12-13  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.  NLT

      There is strength in numbers.  By ourselves we are too weak to stand for long.  The opposition is too great and strong.  We are easily overwhelmed.  It is true both physically and spiritually.

      No one is so strong spiritually that he can withstand Satan for long on his own.  We need others in our lives who understand what we are going through and who can support us in our struggles.  We need wisdom and guidance beyond ourselves because often we simply do not know what to do.  When someone is standing by our side, we feel stronger and more confident in our struggles.  We do not feel all alone and are not as likely to give up and admit defeat. 

       It is better still when not only are there others standing with us to support us, but we have the Lord on our side.  Quite frankly, unless the Lord is the third strand that binds the cord together, we will not overcome Satan.  Two strands woven together are stronger than one and can withstand a lot, but three strands are much stronger and not easily defeated.  No matter how good our intentions may be, without the Lord, we will not prevail. 

       Satan attacks us on many different fronts.  When we shore up our defenses in one area, he attacks another.  No matter how well protected we may be, we will always be vulnerable outside of the Lord’s protection.  When people are united together by Christ, the gates of hell itself shall not prevail against them.  People may be able to do much good and make a huge difference in the world working together, but without the Lord in it Satan will easily render the good useless. 

        In the church, in marriage, in the workplace, in all we do, we need the Lord to bind us together.  It is impossible to please God without Christ.  All of our labors are in vain without the Lord.  Life lived out without the help and blessings of Christ is futile.  He alone holds us all together.  He is the head of the Church and we are His body.  He is the Lord of life and the sooner we let Him be, the better we will be able to live in victory and not defeat.