November 14, 2015

Eccles. 4-7
Next I turned my attention to all the outrageous violence that takes place on this planet...Then I observed all the work and ambition motivated by envy...

I turned my head and saw yet another wisp of smoke on its way to nothingness; a solitary person, completely alone...yet working obsessively late into the night, compulsively greedy for more and more, never bothering to ask, “Why am I working like a dog, never having fun?  And who cares?  More smoke.  A bad business.  

It is better to have a partner than to go it alone...By yourself you’re unprotected, with a friend you can face the worst.  Can you round up a third?  A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped....

Watch your step when you enter God’s house.  Enter to learn.... 

Don’t shoot off your mouth or speak before you think.  Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear...the less you speak the better.  Overwork makes for restless sleep.  Over-talk shows you up as a fool!  When you tell God you’ll do something, do it - NOW...Bar against all illusion and fantasy and empty talk.  There’s always this rock foundation.  Fear God!....Hard and honest work earns a good night sleep...

Take care of yourself, have a good time and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life.  And that’s about it....We should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work.  It’s a God gift!  God deals out joy in the present, the now.  

I looked long and hard at what goes on around here, and let me tell you, things are bad.  And people feel it....It’s more of what I’m calling smoke.  A bad business....all it amounts to anyway is smoke.  And spitting into the wind.  

A good reputation is better than a fat bank account.  Your death date tells more than your birth date.  You learn more at a funeral than at a feast... Crying is better than laughing.  It blotches the face but it scours the heart.  Sages invest themselves in hurt and grieving.  Fools waste their lives in fun and games....    

Endings are better than beginnings.  Sticking to it is better than standing out.  

Don’t be quick to fly off the handle.  Anger boomerangs! You can spot a fool by the bumps on his head.  

Don’t always be asking, “Where are the good old days?”  Wise fools don’t ask questions like that.  

Wisdom is better when it is paired with money.  Especially if you get both while you’re still living.  Double protection: wisdom and wealth.  Plus this bonus:  Wisdom energizes wealth....

On a good day, enjoy yourself; on a bad day, examine your conscience.  God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted   

I’ve seen it all in my brief and pointless life--here a good person cut down in the middle of doing good, there a bad person living a long life of sheer evil    So don’t knock yourself out being good and don’t go overboard being wise...but don’t press your luck being bad either, and don’t be reckless  

It is best to stay on both sides on an issue.  A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just pieces of it....

I tested everything in my search for wisdom.  I set out to be wise but it was beyond me, far beyond me and deep--oh so deep...Yet I did discover one ray of light in this murk:  God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who made a mess of things.

James 5
And a final word to you arrogant rich. Take some lessons in lament.  You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you... 

Meanwhile friend, stay steady and strong...Friends don’t complain about each other...Take the old prophets as you mentors.  They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. 

What a gift life is to those who stay the course!  You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him in the end.  That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.  And since you know that he cares, let your language show it... Just say yes or no.  Just say what is true.  That way your language can’t be used against you.

Are you hurting?  Pray.  Do you feel great? Sing.   Are you sick?  Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master.  Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet.   And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven--healed inside and out.  Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.  The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with..... 

My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off.  Go after them.  get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.