1892.) Ecclesiastes 12

August 2, 2016

Ecclesiastes 12   (New Living Translation)

Ecclesiastes is a bright book of life.  It is bright precisely in its dazzling darkness.  It is a book of life precisely because it honestly and nakedly confronts the fact of death.  It is a great, great book because it explores, deeply and uncompromisingly, a great, great question:  What are our lives here under the sun for?

That is the greatest question in the world.  The only greater book than this would have to be a book that gave the greatest answer in the world — another book from Solomon, the Song of Songs.  The philosopher asks the question, but the lover answers it.  The head thinks, but the heart sings.

–Peter Kreeft, Three Philosophies of Life

We have just finished reading both Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. Please share with us, in Comments, below, what you saw new in these books this time through!

1 Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”

2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.

3 Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop.

Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly.

4 Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.

Eccle12 hearing-aid

5 Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.

Eccl12 graveside

6 Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. 7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “We Will Remember” by Tommy Walker and friends.

_________________________

Concluding Thoughts about the Teacher

8“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless.” 9 Keep this in mind: The Teacher was considered wise, and he taught the people everything he knew. He listened carefully to many proverbs, studying and classifying them. 10 The Teacher sought to find just the right words to express truths clearly.

11 The words of the wise are like cattle prods—painful but helpful. Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep.

12 But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.

“A Girl Reading” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1890 (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.”

–Louisa May Alcott

13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

 “This is how the book will end.
On this rock we can be destroyed; but it is rock, not quicksand.
There is the chance to build.” 

–Derek Kidner

1 Corinthians 15:54 and 58 (Good News Translation)

So when this takes place, and the mortal has been changed into the immortal, then the scripture will come true:
         Death is destroyed; victory is complete!

So then, my dear friends, stand firm and steady. Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless.

____________________

Grant, O Lord, that we may live in thy fear,
die in thy favor, rest in thy peace,
rise in thy power, reign in thy glory;
for thine own beloved Son’s sake,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

The End of the book of Ecclesiastes

_________________________

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:
Remember.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/created-12.jpg
cataracts.   http://www.shulmaneye.com/images/cataracts.png
walker.   http://media1.break.com/breakstudios/2012/2/6/Old%20lady%20with%20walker.jpg
glasses and no teeth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/smiling-old-man1.jpg
hearing aid.   https://bbfzone-ckatoday.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/man-with-hearing-aid.jpg
graveside.   http://www.wilbert.com/assets/1/7/MainFCKEditorDimension/209-Wilbert.jpg
Renoir.   http://www.artilim.com/artist/renoir-pierre-auguste/girl-reading.aspx

1891.) Ecclesiastes 11

August 1, 2016

Ecclesiastes 11 (New Living Translation)

The Uncertainties of Life

1 Send your grain across the seas,
and in time, profits will flow back to you.
2 But divide your investments among many places,
for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.

Or take some alternative advice from Mark Twain, in Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894):

“Put all your eggs in one basket — and watch that basket!”

3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down.
Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls.

4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.
If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
— Goethe

“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
— Helen Keller

“It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”
— Seneca

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”
— T.S. Eliot

“Opportunity dances with those on the dance floor.”
— Anonymous

“Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called ‘sure-thing-taking.'”
— Jim McMahon

5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

Advice for Old . . .

Eccle11 old man

7Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. 8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.

. . .  and Young

Eccle11 girl

9 Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.

_________________________

Music:

For young and old alike, it is a comfort to know that we are never forgotten, or even neglected, by our Heavenly Father.  The Lord will never leave us or forsake us!

HERE  is “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,”  sung by Carabella.

_________________________
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 11:4.   http://www.doorposts.org/images/Old%20Test/Eccl.11.4.jpg
Diversify.   http://aws.canequity.com/assets/images/diversify-your-portfolio.png
Take a risk.   http://cdnimg.visualizeus.com/thumbs/07/4b/artistic,sea,writing,take,a,risk,quote,words-074b868f581ab389891dc45e66332e83_h.jpg
old man.   https://ironmanstrength.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/the_old_man_and_the_sea.jpg
young girl playing.   https://www.gryphonhouse.com/images/blog/girl-playing-with-blocks.jpg?w=300

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

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

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

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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:
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.

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Music:

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

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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

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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:
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