1890.) Ecclesiastes 10

July 29, 2016

The King James Version talks of “flies in the ointment” in verse 1.

Ecclesiastes 10 (New Living Translation)

1 As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink,
so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.

2 A wise person chooses the right road;
a fool takes the wrong one.

3 You can identify fools
just by the way they walk down the street!

Proverbs 13:16 (New International Version)

   All who are prudent act with knowledge,
   but fools expose their folly.

_________________________

Music:

“You can identify fools just by the way they” . . . dress at WalMart.  Yes, I apologize in advance!  HERE!

_________________________

4 If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit!
A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes.

The Ironies of Life

5 There is another evil I have seen under the sun. Kings and rulers make a grave mistake 6 when they give great authority to foolish people and low positions to people of proven worth. 7I have even seen servants riding horseback like princes—and princes walking like servants!

8 When you dig a well,
you might fall in.
When you demolish an old wall,
you could be bitten by a snake.
9 When you work in a quarry,
stones might fall and crush you.
When you chop wood,
there is danger with each stroke of your ax.

10 Using a dull ax requires great strength,
so sharpen the blade.
That’s the value of wisdom;
it helps you succeed.

Yes, it is safer to work with a very sharp knife! 

Stanley Lobel of Lobel’s butcher shop in New York explains that a sharp knife means you have to make fewer cuts. A dull knife makes you work harder; several cuts are required where one or two would do.

It’s really a simple law of averages: fewer cuts means fewer chances of cutting yourself over the long run. More cuts, and the risk goes up. A sharp knife will also cut more cleanly and precisely than a dull knife, and with much less chance of slippage.

11 If a snake bites before you charm it,
what’s the use of being a snake charmer?

12 Wise words bring approval,
but fools are destroyed by their own words.

Matthew 12:36-37 (English Standard Version)

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

13 Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions,
so their conclusions will be wicked madness;
14 they chatter on and on.

No one really knows what is going to happen;
no one can predict the future.

Eccle10 future

Quotes about the future:

Even though the future seems far away, it is actually beginning right now.
–Mattie Stepanek

Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.
–Andrew Carnegie

There is nothing like a dream to create the future.
–Victor Hugo

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
–Albert Camus

I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.
–George Burns

15 Fools are so exhausted by a little work
that they can’t even find their way home.

16 What sorrow for the land ruled by a servant,
the land whose leaders feast in the morning.
17 Happy is the land whose king is a noble leader
and whose leaders feast at the proper time
to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk.

18 Laziness leads to a sagging roof;
idleness leads to a leaky house.

19 A party gives laughter,
wine gives happiness,
and money gives everything!

Eccle10 Laissez

“Let the good times roll,” they say in New Orleans. How many times has that attitude led to less than gracious situations! My parents, sober Norwegians, raised me with another motto: 

1 Peter 5:6-8 (New International Version)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

20 Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts.
And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom.
For a little bird might deliver your message
and tell them what you said.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
flies in the ointment.    http://www.allisoncarmichael.com/rebus/fly_in_the_ointment.jpg
sharp knife.   http://atmedia.imgix.net/d64b3bdb4cbd38b112faf84599715e86c18691ab?w=1500&fit=max
two people talking.    http://www.clker.com/cliparts/5/b/9/8/1194984513646717809chat_icon_01.svg.med.png
Confucius quote.   http://a2.typepad.com/6a00e5501d9bf3883401bb078f804a970d-320wi 
dilapidated house.   http://oneyearbibleimages.com/ecclesiastes10_18.jpg
“Let the good times roll.”   https://img1.etsystatic.com/057/0/9403275/il_570xN.733407513_dq8v.jpg
A little bird told me.   http://0.tqn.com/d/rubberstamping/1/0/p/f/-/-/little_bird_told_me.jpg
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1889.) Ecclesiastes 9

July 28, 2016

Ecclesiastes 9 (New Living Translation)

Death Comes to All

1 This, too, I carefully explored: Even though the actions of godly and wise people are in God’s hands, no one knows whether God will show them favor. 2The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether righteous or wicked, good or bad, ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious. Good people receive the same treatment as sinners, and people who make promises to God are treated like people who don’t. 3 It seems so tragic that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. That is why people are not more careful to be good. Instead, they choose their own mad course, for they have no hope. There is nothing ahead but death anyway. 4 There is hope only for the living. As they say, “It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!”

Ah, but there is something ahead beyond death:

John 5:25-29 (English Standard Version)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

5 The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. 6 Whatever they did in their lifetime—loving, hating, envying—is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth.

Eccle9 eat and drink

7 So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this! 8 Wear fine clothes, with a splash of cologne!

Psalm 118:24 (King James Version)

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  are the Maranatha! Singers and “Give Thanks.”

_________________________

9 Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. 10 Whatever you do, do well.

Eccle9 do it

1 Corinthians 10:31   (NLT)

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.

11 I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.

12 People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy.

Thoughts on Wisdom and Folly

13 Here is another bit of wisdom that has impressed me as I have watched the way our world works. 14 There was a small town with only a few people, and a great king came with his army and besieged it. 15 A poor, wise man knew how to save the town, and so it was rescued. But afterward no one thought to thank him. 16So even though wisdom is better than strength, those who are wise will be despised if they are poor. What they say will not be appreciated for long.

Eccle9 loud

17 Better to hear the quiet words of a wise person
than the shouts of a foolish king.
18 Better to have wisdom than weapons of war,
but one sinner can destroy much that is good.

Our society honors wealth, attractiveness, and success above wisdom.  Yet wisdom is a greater asset than strength, although it is often unrecognized by the masses.  Even though it is more effective, wisdom is not always heard, and wise people often go unheeded.  From this parable we can learn to be receptive to wisdom, no matter who it comes from.

–notes from The Life Application Bible

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)  Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Ecclesiastes 9:11.    http://fessicsfavorites.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/ecclesiastes-911.jpg?w=700
stairway to Heaven.   http://blog.mlive.com/helmtolee/2009/04/large_StairwayToHeaven-D-4d.jpg
Eat your food with rejoicing.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/e5/c8/8e/e5c88e9d7e7a923ed5bb63127683a327.jpg
Start each day . . .     http://27.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lm3i8rNua81qab193o1_400.jpg
Ecclesiastes 9:10.   http://reformedoutfitters.com/wp-content/themes/editorial/functions/thumb.php?src=wp-content/uploads/2011/11/hand-might-2-1024×640.jpg&w=606&h=&zc=1&q=90
Never assume.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/fe/05/e1/fe05e1e0a08f6d3609beeab9c8b921f0.jpg

 


1888.) Ecclesiastes 8

July 27, 2016

Ecclesiastes 8 (New Living Translation)

 1 How wonderful to be wise,
to analyze and interpret things.
Wisdom lights up a person’s face,
softening its harshness.

Obedience to the King

He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.

–St. Augustine

To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it.

–Queen Elizabeth I

The King is dead. Long live the King.

–a traditional proclamation made following the accession of a new monarch 

2 Obey the king since you vowed to God that you would. 3 Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t stand with those who plot evil, for the king can do whatever he wants. 4 His command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it. 5 Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, 6for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble. 7 Indeed, how can people avoid what they don’t know is going to happen? 8 None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle. And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue the wicked.

The Wicked and the Righteous

Eccle8 wicked righteous

9 I have thought deeply about all that goes on here under the sun, where people have the power to hurt each other. 10 I have seen wicked people buried with honor. Yet they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are now praised in the same city where they committed their crimes! This, too, is meaningless.

Yes, I have seen that, too — men who were hard, cruel men, remembered after their deaths for their goodness — ?? 

Shakespeare saw it a different way (from Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene ii):  “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.” And we have seen that, too.

11 When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong. 12 But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. 13The wicked will not prosper, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows. 14 And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!

15 So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.

Eccle8 eat drink

The Teacher sees so clearly that life is meaningless. All he can say is that we should make the best of a bad situation and enjoy life as much as we can . . .

16 In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. 17 I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim.

Eccle8 my thoughts higher

. . . yet here is another perspective:  that God is doing something beyond our understanding. Ah, Teacher, this is an idea worth pursuing!

 _________________________

Music:

In 1773, William Cowper experienced a nervous breakdown.  His mind was telling him that he was condemned to hell for all of eternity.  In his mental sickness he thought God was telling him to take his own life, so he called a taxi and asked to be taken to the Thames River where he intended to end it all.  A thick fog fell about them that evening and the taxi driver drove about lost until he finally stopped to allow Cowper out.  When Cowper stepped out of the taxi he found himself standing at his own doorstep.  He believed God had sent the fog to spare him. Sometime later he wrote the hymn that contains the phrase so often used by Christians today who seek to understand the ways of God:  God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.

HERE  — Lori Sealy has taken Cowper’s famous poem/hymn, written a new melody and added a couple of her own bridges.  I hope you enjoy it!

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.
He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace.
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

God moves in a mysterious way that’s often not my own
His wisdom guides each path I take, His mercy leads me home.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain.
God is His own interpreter and He will make it plain.

God moves in a mysterious way that’s often not my own.
His wisdom guides each path I take, His mercy leads me home.
Help me to trust when I don’t understand
Grant me the peace of resting in your plan.

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.
He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace.
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Blind unbelief . . .     http://i.ytimg.com/vi/2pTEboDF090/0.jpg
crown.  http://gallery.yopriceville.com/var/albums/Free-Clipart-Pictures/Crowns-PNG/Red_King_Crown_PNG_Clipart_Picture.png?m=1399672800
The thoughts of the righteous.   http://www.jarofquotes.com/img/quotes/f7d231711d490bcbf845df42c7eb6096.jpg
Eat, drink, and be merry.   http://www.twotwentyone.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/eat-drink-merry-multicolor-8×10.jpg
Isaiah 55:8-9.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/0d/2a/cf/0d2acfdbaf5f302c83b9fb48bd6b1825.jpg

1887.) Ecclesiastes 7

July 26, 2016

Ecclesiastes 7 (New Living Translation)

Wisdom for Life

1 A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.

One of my favorite poems:

The Courage That My Mother Had 

by Edna St. Vincent Millay 

The courage that my mother had 

Went with her, and is with her still: 
Rock from New England quarried;
Now granite in a granite hill. 

The golden brooch my mother wore 
She left behind for me to wear; 
I have no thing I treasure more: 
Yet, it is something I could spare. 

Oh, if instead she’d left to me
The thing she took into the grave!— 
That courage like a rock, which she 
Has no more need of, and I have.

And the day you die is better than the day you are born.
2 Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
After all, everyone dies—
so the living should take this to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for sadness has a refining influence on us.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the cry of our hearts for a worthwhile life —

Holiness is what I long for,
Holiness is what I need;
Holiness is what You want from me.

Righteousness . . .

Brokenness . . .

_________________________
4 A wise person thinks a lot about death,
while a fool thinks only about having a good time.

5 Better to be criticized by a wise person
than to be praised by a fool.
6 A fool’s laughter is quickly gone,
like thorns crackling in a fire.
This also is meaningless.

7 Extortion turns wise people into fools,
and bribes corrupt the heart.

8 Finishing is better than starting.
Patience is better than pride.

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”
–Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David’s Lord and Master; see His beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at His Father’s right hand, expecting until His enemies be made his footstool. “As He is, so are we also in this world.”  You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”

See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like Him, for you shall see Him as He is. Be content to be like Him, a worm and no man, that like Him you may be satisfied when you wake up in His likeness.

That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much–much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch’s head with trumpet’s joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God’s people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. “They shall be Mine,” saith the Lord, “in the day when I make up My jewels.”  “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.”

9 Control your temper,
for anger labels you a fool.

10 Don’t long for “the good old days.”
This is not wise.

11 Wisdom is even better when you have money.
Both are a benefit as you go through life.
12 Wisdom and money can get you almost anything,
but only wisdom can save your life.

13 Accept the way God does things,
for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
14 Enjoy prosperity while you can,
but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God.
Remember that nothing is certain in this life.

Eccle7 contentment

Philippians 4:11-12 (Good News Translation)

And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little.

The Limits of Human Wisdom

15 I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people. 16 So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? 17 On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time? 18Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes. 19 One wise person is stronger than ten leading citizens of a town!

20 Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.

21 Don’t eavesdrop on others—you may hear your servant curse you. 22 For you know how often you yourself have cursed others.

The ESV translates verse 21 as:  “Do not take to heart all the things that people say . . .”  My mother was a high school teacher; she re-phrased this verse and said that a good teacher does not see all she sees, or hear all she hears. 

It is simply another way of giving grace.

23 I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, “I am determined to be wise.” But it didn’t work. 24 Wisdom is always distant and difficult to find. 25 I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I was determined to prove to myself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness.

26 I discovered that a seductive woman is a trap more bitter than death. Her passion is a snare, and her soft hands are chains. Those who are pleasing to God will escape her, but sinners will be caught in her snare.

27 “This is my conclusion,” says the Teacher. “I discovered this after looking at the matter from every possible angle. 28 Though I have searched repeatedly, I have not found what I was looking for. Only one out of a thousand men is virtuous, but not one woman!

“Eve’s Apple” by Edwina Sandys (a granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill)

This speaks more about Solomon’s choice of female companionship than it does about the relative wisdom of men and women. See what various commentators say:

“His fruitless search for a woman he could trust may tell us as much about him and his approach, as about any of his acquaintances.” (Kidner)

“Such as he knew her to be in Oriental courts and homes, denied her proper position, degraded, uneducated, all natural affections crushed or underdeveloped, the plaything of her lord, to be flung aside at any moment. It is not surprising that Koheleth’s impression of the female sex should be unfavorable.” (Deane)

“He found that a harem did not provide the appropriate companion for man. How much better he would have been with one good wife, such as he speaks of in Ecclesiastes 9:9 and Proverbs 31!” (Wright)

–David Guzik

_________________________

29 But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.”

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Wisdom for Life.   http://www.angelaswisdomtips.com/resources/WisdomLife.jpg
“golden brooch.”  http://www.fashionjewelryforeveryone.com/OtherProductsPhotos/b346.jpg
Imperial State Crown worn by Queen Elizabeth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/200652414339_mtnew_ceremsym_crownjewels_galleryiii-jpg.png
contentment.    https://yourdailyenlightenment.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/visual-inspiration-365-contentment-is-not-the-fulfillment-of-what-you-want-anonymous-web.jpg
Sandys.   http://media.mutualart.com/Images/2009_04/08/0007/151933/151933_ba5cd07d-6b48-4f7a-9034-975ec3c8e504_-1.Jpeg

1886.) Ecclesiastes 6

July 25, 2016

Leona Helmsley left her money to a pet. Helmsley died of congestive heart failure at age 87 in 2007, and her Maltese, Trouble, inherited $12 million. The courts later reduced the amount to only $2 million. Trouble was able to manage on that, her care-takers spending $8,000 a year on grooming and an unknown amount for a full-time security guard to protect against death and kidnapping threats. I am not making this up.

Ecclesiastes 6 (New Living Translation)

1 There is another serious tragedy I have seen under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity. 2 God gives some people great wealth and honor and everything they could ever want, but then he doesn’t give them the chance to enjoy these things. They die, and someone else, even a stranger, ends up enjoying their wealth! This is meaningless—a sickening tragedy.

3 A man might have a hundred children and live to be very old. But if he finds no satisfaction in life and doesn’t even get a decent burial, it would have been better for him to be born dead. 4 His birth would have been meaningless, and he would have ended in darkness. He wouldn’t even have had a name, 5 and he would never have seen the sun or known of its existence. Yet he would have had more peace than in growing up to be an unhappy man. 6 He might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment. And since he must die like everyone else—well, what’s the use?

I used to tell my children that if they said they were bored, it said more about them than about their situation. I feel the same way about contentment. 

This poor hypothetical man, who lives to be 2000 and has 100 children, yet finds life meaningless — he has been blind to what is right there in front of him! To name just a few:  the joys of sunrise and sunset, the beauty of flowering plants, the deliciousness of certain foods, the delight of laughter with good friends, the satisfaction of a child learning to do a new task, the wonder of a rainbow, the peacefulness of lying down to sleep after a busy day, the gentleness of a friendly smile, and on and on. 

Oh, Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear the many blessings that you put in my life day after day after day!

7 All people spend their lives scratching for food, but they never seem to have enough. 8 So are wise people really better off than fools? Do poor people gain anything by being wise and knowing how to act in front of others?

9 Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Doris Day singing “Que Sera, Sera.”  I remember my mother answering some of my childhood questions with this same answer!

_________________________

The Future—Determined and Unknown

Eccle6 breath

10Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. 11 The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?

12 In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?

We can explain Solomon’s lack of knowledge of the afterlife by understanding the principle of 2 Timothy 2:10: that Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. The understanding of immortality was at best cloudy in the Old Testament, but is much clearer in the New Testament. For example, we can say that Jesus knew fully what He was talking about when He described hell and judgment (such as in Matthew 25:41-46). We therefore rely on the New Testament for our understanding of the afterlife, much more than the Old.

–David Guzik

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)    Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Helmsley and her dog.  http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/replicate/EXID677/images/Leona_hemsley.jpg
rainbow.   http://rlv.zcache.com/rainbow_over_a_tree_poster-r8d50868dbf704a57a2edb731c0b6535e_wv3_8byvr_324.jpg
Psalm 144:4.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/21/f5/a5/21f5a55c41ed72d9c831d0ec43ad8e89.jpg

1885.) Ecclesiastes 5

July 22, 2016

Someday I hope to worship God here, in the Basilique Notre-Dame, Montreal.

Ecclesiastes 5 (New Living Translation)

Approaching God with Care

John 4:19-23 (New International Version)

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

1 As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. 2Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.

“Sunday morning worship begins Saturday night,” my husband’s father used to tell him. Prepare yourself for church! Get to bed at a decent time to be well-rested for the next morning. Spend time in prayer for your pastor and the Sunday morning leaders, for your own heart to be open to the Word of God, for new-comers to be welcomed to the house of the Lord! Welcome the Holy Spirit to be at work in your congregation and your worship service!

3 Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.

4 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. 5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. 6 Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.  7 Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.

Hebrews 10:19-22 (New International Version)

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

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Music:

HERE  is Michael W. Smith and “Here I am to worship.”

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The Futility of Wealth

8 Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. 9Even the king milks the land for his own profit! 10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.

– Everett Dirksen

A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.

– W.C. Fields

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.

– Charles Dickens

12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.

Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.

– William A. Ward

13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14 Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.


16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.

Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.

– Robert Orben

I don’t care too much for money / For money can’t buy me love.

– The Beatles

There are people who have money and people who are rich.

– Coco Chanel

18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 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—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Notre-Dame.  http://i1.trekearth.com/photos/100974/nd_-_trekearth1.jpg
church sign.    http://www.verumserum.com/media/2007/12/times-church-sign_4.jpg
“no guilt . . .”   http://rodiagnusdei.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/no-fear-in-death.jpeg?w=189&h=267
fighting about money.    http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/10000/velka/1210-1242160343u74V.jpg
dollar sign.   http://www.clipartbest.com/cliparts/bRT/dzb/bRTdzbbi9.jpeg
cartoon, “you can’t take it”   http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/bfr/lowres/bfrn121l.jpg

1884.) Ecclesiastes 4

July 21, 2016

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” — Lily Tomlin

Ecclesiastes 4 (New Living Translation)

 1 Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless. 2 So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living. 3 But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun.

4 Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

5 “Fools fold their idle hands,
leading them to ruin.”

Proverbs 6:6-11 (Good News Translation)

Lazy people should learn a lesson from the way ants live. They have no leader, chief, or ruler, but they store up their food during the summer, getting ready for winter. How long is the lazy man going to lie around? When is he ever going to get up?
         I’ll just take a short nap, he says;
         I’ll fold my hands and rest a while.
But while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber.

6 And yet,

“Better to have one handful with quietness
than two handfuls with hard work
and chasing the wind.”

The Advantages of Companionship

7 I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. 8This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing. 9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 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.

When my father married his second wife, Thelma, he was 86 and she was 81. The pastor preached a wedding sermon on numbers:  In a marriage, he said, 1 + 1 = 1, because “the two shall become one.” Then, 1 + 1 = 2, because you have two different personalities in any marriage. Then, 1 + 1 = 3, because with God, a marriage can be a picture of Christ and the Church, a truly whole and loving relationship. All of which is to say:  Christ is the third cord.

Another picture:  my husband and his business partner recently went to an important business meeting. A dear friend prayed for him to remember that “Christ is the host at that meeting table.” Again, Christ is the third cord.

How wonderfully encouraging this idea can be! Where in your life can you thank Christ for being your third cord? Where in your life can you invite him to be your third cord?

The Futility of Political Power

 13 It is better to be a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who refuses all advice. 14 Such a youth could rise from poverty and succeed. He might even become king, though he has been in prison. 15 But then everyone rushes to the side of yet another youth who replaces him. 16 Endless crowds stand around him, but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.
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Music:

We all know that country music songs can tell wonderful stories, and  HERE  is one that lines up, kinda sorta, with Ecclesiastes. “Awful, Beautiful Life”  by Darryl Worley.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
rat race.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/rat-race1.jpg
ants at work.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/ants2.jpg
Ecclesiastes 4:12.   http://hebrewbible.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/ecclesiastes-4_12.gif
number 3.     http://www.astrogle.com/images/articles/numerology/number-3.gif