Showing posts from April, 2024

the Lost Art of Wisdom

The Lost Art of Wisdom Ecclesiastes 7:5-9 “It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man than for one to listen to the song of fools.”               Who we listen to influences who we become.  Solomon returns us to traditional wisdom in his quest to find meaning and purpose in life.  While wisdom has its limitations, it still is to be pursued.  In verse 6, Solomon challenges us to examine those who influence us in our search for purpose and meaning in life.  He begins by reminding us that wisdom comes by listening to the wise man's rebuke rather than those who entertain us.  Just as we are naturally drawn to the house of feasting, we are attracted to the appeal of songs.  The appeal of the fool is through the medium of the song.  In other words, we are attracted to them because they speak what we want to hear.  Everyone enjoys music and dislikes a rebuke.  Music soothes the soul, while a rebuke brings agitation and conflict. Yet Solomon reminds us that truth and wisdom come th

Finding Wisdom in an Unlikely Place

Finding Wisdom in an Unlikely Place Ecclesiastes 7:1-5 “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.”               Solomon again confronts us with what seems absurd, for he praises the house of mourning over the house of feasting.  This contradicts our own experience.  We love to go to celebrations, a birthday party, a retirement party, or some other event where we celebrate.  We are excited when we can enjoy a wedding but dread going to a funeral.  Yet, in our search for meaning and purpose in life, Solomon encourages us to go to the place of mourning rather than feasting.  Then, in verse three, he makes a statement that seems more in line with the ascetic monks and even the psychological disorder of self-destruction: “Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be happy.”  This seems contradictory: Happiness is found through the path of sorrow.   However, Solomon is not trying to point us down the road of a joyless life filled

Hope In times of Trials

 this past week we learned that my wife has stage 4 breast cancer.  I would like to share the video of the Sermon I preached to address this with the church;

The Tragedy of Discontentment

The tragedy of discontentment. Eccl. 6:1-12 “There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is prevalent among men—a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This vice is a severe affliction.”               The capacity to gain wealth and the capacity to enjoy wealth are two different things.  We see this theme repeatedly manifested in our culture.  People who gain wealth never get to enjoy their prosperity.  As Solomon looks about him, he sees an often repeated reality.  Many people achieve wealth and success in life yet never gain satisfaction and joy. We see people who earn all that we think is necessary for life.  They obtain wealth and honor (vs. 2).  They are blessed with a large family, which in the Ancient Near East was regarded as one of the characteristics of success (vs 3).  They enjoy a long life, which is also considered a bl

The Gift of Contentment

The Source of Contentment Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 “Furthermore, as for every man to whom God. has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.”               How do we find meaning and hope in a world where sin destroys everything and life is filled with paradoxes?  Where do we find joy if wealth becomes an anchor that drags us down?  As we journey with Solomon, we might conclude that his outlook is so pessimistic and darkened that there is no hope or meaning.  But Solomon is not taking us through the forest of futility merely to lead us to despair.  He is masterfully confronting us with the reality of a broken world where we must look beyond the present and find meaning and hope in the only source where it is available.  After confronting us with the folly of riches, he answers the question we have been searching for in our pursuit of wealth.  We long for the enjoyment of life but discover

The Folly of Wealth and the Value of Contentment

The Folly of Wealth and the Value of Contentment. Ecclesiastes 5:8-17. “As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came.  He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand.”               It is easy to get caught up in the pursuit of money and things.  No matter how much we have, there is always something more to be attained.  In his quest to find meaning, which only highlights how much we pursue in life is genuinely devoid of significance, Solomon again turns to the one thing we still relentlessly pursue: wealth.  While wealth has many benefits, there is one overriding disadvantage: no matter how much we have, there is always more to be attained.  The more we embrace wealth as the key to happiness, the more happiness eludes us.  To point us to the folly of our pursuit, Solomon reminds us that, in the end, the pursuit of riches does not bring peace and happiness; instead, it only brings further unhappiness.  Instead of it being a b

Finding the Key for Balance in Life

The Balanced Life:  Finding Balance in Our Relationship with God. Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 “Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools.”                          Solomon’s quest for meaning and balance in life now brings us to the central point governing a life of significance.  The key to balance, meaning, and purpose in life is a right relationship with God.  However, we must recognize that even in our relationship with God, sin can corrupt our pursuit so that instead of drawing us to God, it can also lead to a further pursuit of what is meaningless.              Wisdom starts with a teachable spirit before God.  Solomon warns us that we are to enter into the house of God with a desire to hear rather than merely go through the religious rituals. This speaks of a teachable spirit and an attitude to seek to hear from God and obey Him.  In contrast is the fool who merely goes through the rituals.  The fool comes to the te

Finding Balance in Life Pt. 1

Maintaining Balance in Life. Pt 1:  Work Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 “One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after the wind.”               One of the gifts that God gave humanity was the gift of work.  Before the fall, God gave Adam and Eve the responsibility to care for the garden. However, just as sin corrupted our nature, it corrupted all creation.  Consequently, what God designed to be good and express our creative purpose became a source of frustration and futility.  Our labor would no longer be a joy; instead, it would become an arduous task, bringing frustration and anxiety.  Solomon recognizes three invaluable lessons in examining our work under the microscope of experience.             First, Solomon points to the competitive corruption of work.  Solomon already pointed out that work is a gift from God, but like all of God’s blessings, it can be corrupted by our sinful desires.  Work often becomes motivated by greed and envy.  Our desire to climb the

The Cry for Justice

The Cry for Justice Ecclesiastes 3:16-22 “I said to myself, “’God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,’ for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.”               People cry for justice today. Yet the more people seek justice, the more injustice seems to reign.  However, this is nothing new.  The fall of humanity resulted in the corruptive presence of sin at all levels of humanity, even in the one or two places where righteousness should still be found:  the halls of government (“place of justice”)  and the house of God (“place of righteousness”).  God has ordained the government to be the guardians of justice in the world (Romans 13:1-5) and his house to promote righteousness.  Yet today, we see the opposite.  Instead of establishing laws to restrain and punish evil, the government is endorsing evil.  Righteousness is attacked while wickedness is promoted.  Instead of the church preaching God's righteousness and moral law, many are rejecting the truth

The Doctrine of Right Time

The Doctrine of the Right Time Part 1 Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”               When we think of doctrine, we often think of the character and nature of God and His work in history.  We refer to the doctrine of Salvation (Soteriology), the doctrine of the End Times (eschatology), the doctrine of God (Theology Proper), etc.  However, the one doctrine we overlook and one woven throughout the pages of scripture is the doctrine of time, or more specifically, the doctrine of the right time.  The word “time” is used 797 times in the Bible and is found in almost every book. Just as it was necessary in the biblical era, so it is essential for us today. Throughout life, we are governed by time.  We constantly look at our watch to ensure we are “on time.”  We keep a schedule in our digital calendar to ensure we are at the right place and time. We speak of the speed of time.  There are occasions when times seem to accelerate, and then there are occasions wh

The Doctrine of Right Time Pt 2

The Doctrine of Right Time Part 2: Finding Joy in God’s Plan. “I know that there is nothing better for them to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-15               What does God desire for us as we live in a chaotic and confusing world?  The answer is simple:  Enjoy the life He has given us, for it is His gift to us!  It is easy in all the struggles of life to become fixated upon the problems.  In verses 2- 8, Solomon described life as a journey marked by the uncertainty between two extremes.  There is life and death, joy and sorrow, love and hate, war and peace, etc..  This summer my wife and I are living with two parallel extremes.  We are rejoicing at the anticipated graduation of our son with his Ph.D. in immunology while at the same time facing prolonged chemotherapy treatments for cancer.  Sometimes in life, we not only fluctuate between two extremes of life, but we can encounter them both simultaneously. We often focus on the adverse while overlooking th