It’s Science 

Ecclesiastes 12:13
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.”

The book of Ecclesiastes is a bit like an experiment. Solomon looked at life the way a scientist does an experiment. He sought to discover the meaning of life by asking questions, doing research, creating an hypothesis, and drawing a conclusion. It is here, at the end, that he makes his discovery known to his readers. His conclusion, after years of experimentation, is that the purpose of life will be found in fearing God and keeping His Word.

Fearing God is a reoccurring theme in the Bible. It is first mentioned in the story of Abraham being asked to offer his only son to God. This was a test to determine if Abraham loved God more than anything else in life. The conclusion we draw is that fearing God means loving Him above all else and seeking to please Him, no matter the cost. Practically speaking, to fear God means we should do what His Word says, rather than what our emotions, others or circumstances tell us to do. When a person refuses to succumb to the pressure to compromise, expresses the kindness of Christ when mistreated, or reaches out to share the Gospel, they are acting in the fear of God.

Solomon linked fearing God with keeping His commandments. These things cannot be separated. In fact, Solomon is not suggesting two different roads, but rather that fearing God involves obeying His Word. The way to check whether or not we fear God, is to simply examine if we are obeying our Bibles. If there are things you are involved in that are forbidden, or if you are neglecting what is clearly written, then you are failing to properly fear the Lord.

Some experiments do not need to be repeated. They have already been proven, and the best thing for us to do is trust the research of those who have gone before us. Instead of blindly walking through life without meaning or purpose, take a lesson from Solomon and commit yourself to reading the Bible, and doing what it says.

Pastor Jim

 

Whatever You Want

Ecclesiastes 11:9
“…Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.”

It is not uncommon for a person to go from church to church, and pastor to pastor, until they receive the counsel they want to hear; instead of the counsel they need to hear. I have known people to leave the church they have been attending simply because they received advice or admonishment they did not like. It is in those times, Solomon’s words seem to be most fitting. He declares, we are free to do whatever our heart desires, but we must understand, a day is coming when we will give account for those decisions, and the actions that followed.

A married couple, who has failed to apply the Biblical principles to their marriage, may grow farther and farther apart, until they choose to end their marriage. They may even use phrases like, “we fell out of love” or “it is better for the children, for us to part than to fight” or “we never really loved each other anyway.” The end result is, they are choosing to do what they want, regardless of what God says. It is important to realize, a day is coming when we will answer for the life we lived. Difficulties are not reasons to end a marriage, but to work on the marriage.

A dating couple may feel the pressure to become sexually active. They may begin to justify their actions because they are in love. They too have a choice, either to obey God or follow their heart. It is important to keep in mind, we will stand before God for our decisions.

Whatever scenario we can imagine, we find ourselves face to face with the decision to either obey the Word of God, or to follow the desires of our own hearts. I recall sitting with an individual who began to tell me all the reasons for the decision he was making. He told me of the difficulties he was facing and his desire to be happy. After listening to him for quite some time, I replied, “Where is God in the equation?” His answer stunned me, he declared he did not care, he just wanted to be happy.

Whatever you are facing, remember, we will one day stand face to face with Christ. It is His desire to richly reward us with eternal life and treasures in heaven. Whatever momentary happiness we think we will derive from disobedience, will soon be forgotten in the light of eternity’s rewards.

Pastor Jim

 

Price Cut 

Ecclesiastes 10:7
“I have seen servants on horses, While princes walk on the ground like servants.”

Years ago, I heard a story, whether it is factual, I do not know, but it told of a group of men who broke into a large department store in a metropolitan area. These cunning thieves did not actually steal anything. Instead they changed the price tags on everything. Items that were of little value were given high prices, while things of great worth, were sold for pennies. The next morning, when the store reopened, it did not take long to realize that things were a mess. The management determined, the only solution was to close for the day and reprice everything.

We live in a world that is not unlike that department store. Things that don’t matter much are pursued as though life could not exist with out them, while the things in life that matter most, are often ignored or neglected. This is clearly not a new phenomenon, for Solomon saw it happening in his day. People were living by the wrong value system, and as a result, were pursuing all the wrong things.

This reminds me of a poem written by C.T. Studd

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

Pastor Jim

 

You Are Not alone 

Ecclesiastes 9:2
“All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; to the good, the clean, and the unclean; to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.”

Solomon spent his life as a student of human behavior. He appeared to be on a quest to find meaning and purpose to life. His observations led him to the conclusion that trials, or difficulties, are the lot of all men; both the righteous and the wicked experience times of sorrow, pain and suffering. When a tornado strikes a town, it makes no distinction between the believer or the unbeliever. Cancer strikes the godly, as well as the ungodly. Christians and non-Christians have both lost their jobs due to tough economic times. If there is no difference between the ailments that we suffer, what is the benefit of living a life committed to Christ?

First, there are great promises given to the child of God, in the midst of the difficulties he or she is enduring. We are promised the peace of God will sustain us, and the strength of God will carry us through. One of the most attractive aspects of a relationship with Christ is the peace He provides, in the midst of the storms of life. I have known believers who are facing intense trials, yet they are guarded within by the perfect peace, which flows from God.

In addition to peace, the child of God understands, there is purpose behind the suffering. Difficulties are not meaningless, but rather become tools in the hand of God to build character, to provide opportunities, and to give to others the light of the Gospel of Christ. Paul found himself in prison, where he celebrated the goodness of God, and by doing so, won others to faith in Christ. We cannot always understand why we are suffering, but we can look for ways by which God will be glorified in our trying times.

The believer also realizes trials are temporary. While they may seem to last forever, they are in fact transient and will be over soon. Some run their course in this life. We may even have a difficult time remembering some of the things we suffered a year ago. Other trials may follow us throughout the course of this life, but will not follow us into eternity. Whatever difficulties we have now, the Christian can be sure they will not plague us in eternity.

Whatever you might be facing, allow me to encourage you to trust Christ and cling to His promises. There is no reason you should have to walk this journey alone. There is a Savior who wants to comfort and strengthen you, if you will trust your life into His care.

Pastor Jim

 

When Nothing Happens 

Ecclesiastes 8:11
“Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

Something sinister happens to us when we sin and do not receive an immediate consequence. We begin to think God is OK with our behavior, even though the Bible clearly teaches it is wrong. When we are not struck by lightning or swallowed by a whale, we think we have gotten away with our sin, and can keep on with it, without consequences. If that is the case, we have forgotten the very nature of how sin works. Paul wrote,

Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

Paul uses the illustration of farming to teach us to make proper investments in our lives. The farmer teaches us at least three things about sowing.

First, we will reap what we sow. If a farmer plants corn seed, he expects to harvest corn. If he plants wheat, then wheat; rice, then rice. The concept is simple, whatever is planted will be harvested. The same is true of our lives. If we make investments into our relationship with the Lord, we will harvest eternal life. Eternal life is not something that begins after we die, but at the moment we receive Christ. Jesus expanded on this idea when He promised His followers would have abundant life. Each time we choose to make spiritual investments, we will ultimately reap spiritual rewards. On the other hand, if we sow to sin, we will reap corruption. Corruption is a process of decay that makes things worse. When metal is corrupted it becomes weak and brittle. The same is true of our lives.

Second, we will reap after we sow. We expect immediate return on our investments. We microwave our food, have our friends on speed dial, and pay for the highest speed Internet connections available. However, sowing and reaping are not always like that. Just as the farmer expects a time gap between sowing his seed and reaping his harvest, so we should expect a delay. Although it may not seem like there are consequences to our sin, they will, in fact, come. Just because we have not been chastened by the Lord, does not mean he approves of our sin.

Finally, we will reap more than we sow. A handful of seed will produce a truck full of fruit, come harvest time. This is very encouraging when we consider the investments we make in the kingdom of God. What might seem like a small investment to us, may in truth, yield great fruit for the kingdom. On the other hand, this should be very frightening when it comes to sin. What we might think of as just a little sin, may in fact, create a massive storm, and devastate our family.

If you are misbehaving and think everything is OK, because you have not been caught, take Solomon’s words to heart. Sit before the Lord, confess your sin and ask for His strength to turn from it. On the other hand, if you are discouraged, because you have been doing right and do not see the benefits, keep in mind, the harvest will come and it will be great.

Pastor Jim

 

Pain And Gain 

Ecclesiastes 7:14
“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…”

Adversity is part of life, and for the believer, it is something that should be embraced. It is not that we desire to suffer, but that we realize, God will use the difficulties we face to develop the character of Christ within us, and to shine the light of the gospel from us. As we work our way through the pages of the Scripture, we find the Bible heroes were forged through suffering.

Abraham became the father of faith, when he embraced his calling and left his home and family, for a land where he would forever live as a stranger. Moses embraced the suffering that came with choosing to identify with the people of God, rather than the palace of Egypt. David embraced the hardship of being the forgotten son, who was ridiculed by his brothers. Rather than weeping, whining, and expressing how unfair life is, he turned his eyes upward and wrote beautiful praise choruses that still comfort the hurting heart.

Life is filled with difficulty, adversity, trial, and hardship. As a follower of Christ it is important, that instead of wallowing in the mire of the unfair, we embrace the hardship, and allow the Lord to draw us near to Himself, and produce what is lacking in our faith.

If you are struggling through a painful experience, take the time to consider what God wants to accomplish in your life, and how the light of the Gospel of Christ can shine forth in your pain.

Pastor Jim

 

You Can’t Take It With You

Ecclesiastes 5:15
“As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand.”

Back in the eighties, it was common to see bumper stickers on expensive cars that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” The sentiment was simple, life is about acquiring more, and happiness is found in the abundance of wealth. That might be a catchy saying, but the reality is, the only thing we win by accumulating more, is more. The Bible declares, there is much more to

life than the things we acquire. Solomon declared,

As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return”

Years ago, a nearby museum was displaying the remains of King Tut. People everywhere, traveled to see the great wealth buried with this dead ruler. He was buried along with much wealth in order that he would have plenty when he stepped from time into eternity. The folly of such thinking should have been settled forever by the fact that his tomb was still filled with all that loot. The simple fact is, no matter how much wealth we attain in this life, we cannot take it with us. It would be utter folly to see a hearse pulling a trailer full of goods. While we cannot take earthly riches with us, we certainly can send spiritual treasures on ahead. Jesus encourages us to “store up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20).

Instead of living only to provide for needs while on earth, we should be living to prepare for our time in eternity. First step, receive Christ as Savior. Next step, seek to live for the things that matter most to Him.

Pastor Jim