Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rifts with Employers

In every job there are times when our ideas are in opposition to administration. For many people, the conflict between those in authority and those in service produces a continual undercurrent of resentment.

The author of Ecclesiastes gives very sound advice. “If the spirit of a ruler rises against you, do not leave your post; for conciliation pacifies great offenses (Ecc 10:4).

In other words, as you continue to remain faithful in your job you have the potential for healing the strained relationship. In cases where your faithfulness does not make a difference, you can begin to seek other employment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Depressing Book

We may wonder why the book of Ecclesiastes is included in the Cannon of Scriptures since it is so depressing. But the overall purpose of the book is to remind us of the vanity and emptiness of serving things rather than God. When the author laments that being wise, strong, and rich is useless and all of life is a matter of chance, he is speaking from an unbelieving heart. (Ecc 10:11-12). Without God his words are true, but with God there is purpose and an eternal glorious outcome designed and controlled by God

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Working with Confidence

“ For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all; that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God” (Ecc 9:1).

What a wonderful promise this is. God has prepared ahead of time good things for us to accomplish (Ephesians 2:10) and he anoints our labors. He not only calls us to do certain tasks but he promises to accomplish them through us (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Today, work with confidence. See what a difference it makes both in your work and in how you feel.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sometimes the Righteous Suffer

There was a youth pastor in his early thirties who exhibited a level of genius in his study and his working with youth. He and his young wife took a few days off to relax. Diving into the water he miscalculated and was knocked unconscious when he hit his head on the bottom of the pool. Life guards dove in and rescued him, but there was permanent damage to his brain. He now has the mental capacity of a child.

There was a young man who experimented with drugs and alcohol. His life was filled with carousing, cheating and self worship. One day, driving a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol he hit a tree crushing his leg. The doctors warned him that he would most likely loose the limb during the operation. God intervened and the leg was miraculously restored to normal. The young man turned toward God for nearly six months, but soon fell back into old habits, rejecting God altogether.

The writer of Ecclesiastes puts it this way, “There is vanity which occurs on earth, that there are just men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked: again, there are wicked men to whom it happen according to the work of the righteous.” Ecc 8:14

These stories disturb our faith. but we are wise to remember God’s words to us found in Isaiah, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God has his purpose and the eternal outcome possess the greatest importance.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Earning Points

“Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before him. Ecc 8:12

The thirty-third chapter of Ezekiel lays out the criteria for forgiveness and right relationship with God. If a man is faithful to God until the end of his life and then turns away, all of his previous righteousness bears no weight. On the other hand if a man is unfaithful and rebellious to God until the end of his life and then turns toward God, all of his unrighteousness bears no weight against him.

We are not storing up points to earn salvation or squandering points to loose salvation. If we repent, God is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9). He will bring everything into the counsel of his will on our behalf as we rely on him regardless of the stage of our lives (Ephesians 2:11).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hot Cars and Frustrating Questions

I can remember as a child waiting with my mother for dad to come out of a hardware store. Summer in Redding California is sticky and hot so our windows were rolled down and sweat made our legs stick to the plastic seats of the car. Dad had promised ice cream at the end of our shopping trip and I wanted to know if it was time yet.

Mother, being the wise woman she was, reminded me that it is not wise to ask those kinds of questions when someone is hot, tired and frustrated. There is a time to ask questions and a time to wait silently.

That advice is good for adults also. Not only do we need to be careful when and where we ask questions, but when and where we do things. The writer of Ecclesiastes put it this way, “A wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment, because for every matter there is a time and judgment” (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Passing It On

When I was a child my mother taught me, if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. It was good advice that kept me from hurting other people.

A similar principle is to never tell your friend negative things that were said about them. When you do, you unwittingly become the attacker. It is best to leave unkindness in the garbage where it belongs than smear it over someone you know.

There may be times when an unwise person repeats to you negative remarks by another individual. If that should happen, remember the proverb from Ecclesiastes, “Do not take to heart everything people say, Lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others” (7:21-22).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overly Righteous

There is a rather strange proverb in Ecclesiastes. “Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? Do not be overly wicked nor be foolish; Why should you die before your time?” (Ecc 7:16-17).

How can a person be overly righteous or over wise? Is the scripture admonishing us to add a little spice to our lives by some ungodliness? We know from the rest of scripture that cannot be accurate.

However, most of us have met someone who attempts to give spiritual meaning to every thing in life. Conversations with them tend to be surreal. If they receive a complement on their appearance, the response is, “It’s all God.” If someone tells them they enjoyed their singing, again the response is, “it’s all God.” Going to lunch with them may be a religious experience, praying about what restaurant to pick, where to park or may go as far as attempting to discern if they should go to lunch at all.

Over spiritualizing every normal interaction demeans the importance of true godly behavior and diminishes the glory of God.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Soaring Hearts

God has appointed both days of prosperity and adversity (Ecc 7:14).

That is good news. Whatever the difficulty we are facing will be resolved in God’s timing and for his glory. We will again rejoice, going to his house to sing his praise (Psalm 122:1).

Because our bodies grow tired and we become weary, our praise tends to be limited. Our habitual focus on this life serves to weigh down our hearts. But when we choose to concentrate on the eternal weight of glory, our spirits can soar with the eagles and our mouths be filled with his praise (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Appointed Days

God has appointed both days of prosperity and adversity (Ecc 7;14) We are to rejoice in the one and consider in the other.

When we pray for healing and healing does not come, we tend to wonder if our belief system is at fault. Have we put our trust in something that is not consistent with reality? Is God angry with us or do we simply not have enough faith to be healed?

But God’s word tells us that he has appointed days of adversity for us. He does not do this simply to prove a point, but he is working in us that which will make us more like Christ. In days of adversity we run to God, we search our hearts, praying for wisdom and insight.

God is teaching us to trust him (Isaiah 26:3).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Opened Doors

It is good to know God’s plans cannot be stopped. Doors he has opened no one can shut. Door he has shut no one can open. What he has hidden, no one can discover. What he has revealed no one can hide.

No one is as great as our God.

(Ecc 7:13; Job 42:2; Isaiah 55: 10-12; Rev 3:8)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gift of Wisdom

Wisdom is one of our greatest treasures. Though it may deny us what we think we want it protects us from what we loath (suffering unnecessarily).

Wisdom guards our wealth (Ecc 7:11-12). It keep us from premature death (Ecc 7:12). It makes us know what to do with knowledge and increases our joy (Ecc 2:21). It gives us strength and protects us from being drained with poor decisions (Ecc 7:19). It gives light to our countenance (Ecc 8:1) and reveals to us the work of God (Ecc 8:16-17). And wisdom brings success (Ecc 10:10).

Wisdom is interwoven in the foundation of the earth and all of creation (Proverbs 8:20-31). Let’s rejoice and delight in the gift of wisdom by allowing it to guide our decision and by praising its author (Proverbs 8:31).