Recent Episodes

August 4, 2021

The End Of The Road?

In our Ecclesiastes Solomon is exasperated by the same fate that awaits everyone, regardless of how they conduct their lives.  

Ecc 9:2  The 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.

Ecc 9:3  It seems so wrong that everyone under the sun suffers the same fate. Already twisted by evil, people choose their own mad course, for they have no hope. There is nothing ahead but death anyway.

That is definitely a conundrum! — Someone who could be nicest person in the world, versus the most heinous serial murderer ever, is still headed for the same grave.  

Solomon seems to have approached this from a perspective that is bankrupt The Gospel.  If we have no hope in Christ, this is certainly something that would leave us wondering, what is the point in obedience…shouldn’t we just do whatever we want?  

However, and even atheists can’t say for certain either, we don’t definitively know what happens when we die, atheists can’t say for certain that there is no God, but there is certainly a lot of evidence from the Bible.    If you read the Bible, a lot of science has corroborated what has happened in the Bible.  You have various artifacts that have been discovered over time that line up with exactly what the Old Testament says, prophecies that say nations will get wiped out and today they happened exactly as the Bible said it.  

More importantly, there is the New Testament, the eye witness accounts of Matthew, Mark and John all spell out the same events of Christ’s life, the supernatural happenings surrounding His death and the empty tomb afterwards.  

So that leaves us with two ways to approach life, we can look at it as Solomon was here, saying ‘what is the point of it all if we are all going to die anyhow’, or through the lens of the Gospel that gives a life that doesn’t end in what happens after the here and now.  

 

August 3, 2021

Man Cannot Know The Future

In our devotional today, Solomon kicks off the 9th Chapter of Ecclesiastes by reminding us that only God knows the future, and we cannot know what is going to happen or when it is going to happen.

Ecc 9:1  For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God. Man does not know whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.

Have you ever heard the phrase; truth is stranger than fiction?  

A lot of times we escape reality by watching movies or reading books, but more often than not a news story will emerge that is absolutely mind blowing, one of those things that man cannot explain.

One such event happened 10 years ago, the Penn State scandal and the death of Joe Paterno.

Joe Paterno was the head coach of the Penn State Football team for 45 years, and was widely considered the most ethical coaches that ever walked the sidelines.  His players loved him, his fans adored him.  He wouldn’t allow them to play if they didn’t have certain GPA’s, he made them say the Lord’s prayer before every game, in short, he was considered a very honest man throughout his career.  

Then in 2011,  a scandal broke that one of his previous assistants had been molesting young boys, and also alleged that Paterno knew about it and didn’t speak up about it.  Within a week, his storied coaching career came crashing down on him.  He was fired, his winning record was taken away from him, and then 3 months later, he died of cancer.  It was a sad end to a life that was seemingly built on ethics, a greek tragedy couldn’t have been more dramatic.  

The Paterno fall, is a specific example, of how we don’t know what the future holds, and only God does. 

While bad things may happen to good people or vice versa in this world, we do however have an eternal hope in The Gospel.  Whatever happens in this life, good or bad, and otherwise unexplainable, we still have Christ’ whom we can put our trust and hope in.  His work and His love are what guarantee us eternity in the next life, as Christ tells us, He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him.  He reminds us in John Chapter 10 verse 29:   “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

So while Solomon is racking his brain, wondering what the future in this life holds for anyone, Christ tells us in The Gospel of John, that our salvation is guaranteed when we put our trust in Him, and nothing and no one here on earth can take that away.  

A great reassurance for us when find ourselves stumbling and bumbling in this life.  Bad things may happen, but when we trust in Christ, we are His forever.  

 

August 2, 2021

God Only Knows

Solomon tells us today that no matter how hard we rack our brains, we cannot know God’s ways in the way that He does.  

Ecc 8:16  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.

Ecc 8:17  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.

Even the most learned philosophers across time have yet to understand the secrets of the universe.  

Why do things happen the way they do? 

Something that recent that is certainly confounding is the Kennedy dynasty and tragedy.

Before becoming President, JFK lost both of his siblings, one had health issues, the other dies in a plane crash.  Then JFK is assassinated in 63, 5 years later his brother Bobby also suffers the same fate.  Then JFK Jr dies is a plane crash!  

The coincidence of something like that tragic happening has to be about 1 in a billion!  

Why did it happen?  Only God knows.  Historians call it the Kennedy curse, but why were the cursed?  Were they even cursed?  Was it a massive multi-generational conspiracy?  Some like to think so, but the reality is, they don’t know either!  

That’s just one example of the different events that have occurred at the hand of God that completely leaves humanity dumbfounded.  

Solomon is alluding to that as well, no matter how studied we may become in the arts, sciences or philosophies, man cannot understand the ways of God.  

This is a very humbling reality for us, that unfortunately breed cynicism.  But the fact remains that God is God, and we are but the Creator’s creations.  

July 30, 2021

Doing What Makes Us Happy

Against the backdrop of trying to figure out why the wicked prosper and the good die young, Solomon concludes it is best to work hard and play hard:

Ecc 8:15  So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

This by no means is calling for anyone to just go and indulge in whatever vices are out there, but instead…we work hard at whatever station God has put us at in life, be it a home-maker, an office job, teacher or whatever…and while we toil away at our jobs, we should also enjoy life when we can.  

This is a rather topical subject right now, because of social media and how it relates to depression.  Social media seems like a necessity in life right now, not having social media is akin to not having a phone in the 80s.  But, in our spare time, we should also ask ourselves, is the way we use social media making us happy?  It seems like a lot of depression is borne out of too much time in front of a screen of some sort, allowing what others say dictate our own level of happiness.  

Solomon’s teaching today says eat, drink and be merry.  The Hebrew word in the original text for Merry is Samach, which translates to gladness or happiness.  

Is how we are investing our spare time making us happy?  

Not to get too far off track, but depression seems like a very unsettling thing these days, suicide is now the 4th highest killer among adolescents, so as Solomon reminds us, in our spare time, do what makes us happy, and if spending hours in front of a screen brings out anxieties, it is probably a good idea to stay away from those vices or at least put some controls on how we use social media and make sure it doesn’t drive us into sadness.  

July 29, 2021

God’s Wisdom Is Beyond Human Understanding

 

As we venture on in our Ecclesiastes Study, Solomon again laments his frustration about the different providences of God, He can’t understand why things happen the way that they do.  It is beyond his intellectual pay grade, it is transcends human understanding.  

Ecc 8:14  There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.

Here the preacher is wondering, why do bad things happen to good people and vice versa, why do good things happen to bad people.  

That is a perplexing question for sure, one that has baffled the masses since time began.  We remember that this was written 600 years before Christ entered time, so well over 2500 years ago, and today we continue to ask this question.  Why do Tsunami’s happen, why do kids die of sudden infant death syndrome?  Why did my brother get killed in a car accident?  Why am I sick at such a young age?  

This is certainly not a new question, but part of our humble Christian walk is to surrender these things to God.  Again, we can’t deign to try and figure out why God does what He does, but we can learn His attributes by studying His Word, the Bible, which is God’s revelation of Himself to us.  

Looking at original sin.  Why did God allow Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit?  After that, sin enters the world and historically man has been screwing over his fellow man since.  But looking at it through the lens of the Bible, this is all part of God’s redemptive plan.  Sin enters the world, around 5000 BC.  Then about 5,030 years later Christ dies to atone for that sin, freeing man from God’s wrath.  So that act alone crosses 5 different millenniums, so just to give us a general idea of the infinite expanses of eternity that God operates above, trying to figure out the day-to-day operations of how God runs the world is as Solomon says vanity, or pointless.  It would be like trying to teach calculus to a mosquito.  

So rather than twisting our brains into pretzels trying to figure out the ways of the world, it is best for us to trust and obey.  Once we surrender these things to Christ, life becomes much less stressful.  As He tells us in Mat 11:29  “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

July 28, 2021

Evil ultimately doesn’t prosper

On the heels of Solomon observing that good things seem to happen to bad people, where the wicked often live long prosperous lives, Solomon ultimately concludes that the righteous are better off 

Ecc 8:13  But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.

The evil are not rewarded for their wicked deeds, sure…they may sometimes live to see a ripe old age, but in the great expanse of time, their lives are fractional.  What is a life of 80 years compared to the infinite realm of eternity, which cannot be measured by time?  

Solomon concludes that this happens because they do not fear the Lord, instead they live to please themselves, rambling from one vice to another. 

We can foolishly live to please ourselves day to day, but our days are numbered, meanwhile eternity is, well…endless!  

This should definitely call for an inward look at our own lives, are we falling into sin trying to chase our next high in life?  There are plenty of fixes to pursue, drugs, alcohol, adultery, theft and murder, all these things that man does to enrich himself in our present life…but isn’t it much more sensible to obey God, trust in Christ and have an eternal reward instead of following empty fantasies like temporary wealth that expires when we do?  

In other words, sin may bring pleasure in the here and now, but in the sphere of eternity, it brings punishment…so its ultimately the right one who is better off, not the disobedient sinner.  

July 27, 2021

Sin vs Obedience

 

Today Solomon expounds on what happens to the wicked versus what happens to those who fear the Lord 

Ecc 8:12  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.

Solomon is remarking on seeing someone who is always doing the wrong thing being rewarded for it.  In this case, they live a long time, and that’s certainly something we can all relate to…seeing someone who is forever up to no good seemingly living the good life.  Perhaps a corrupt politician, a celebrity who is always fooling around on their wife, or just someone at work, who is dishonest yet always gets promoted.  Solomon is saying, that just because someone is always getting up to nasty business, they can still live a long and often prosperous life.  It’s not like they get hit with that bolt of lightening

But more importantly, the second half of that verse: “those who fear God will be better off”. Those who trust in Christ, and repent or set aside their sinful ways are the one’s who will receive the eternal rewards and as Ecclesiastes tells us, will be better off.  

The riches of this life are fading fast but the Kingdom of God is eternal, this should call for some introspective on our parts as well, we should strive to keep that greatest command and Love God with all our heart, soul and mind.  That means all the time, not just for 60 minutes on Sundays.  

So as we find ourselves in the middle of the workweek, let us not to carried away with the cares of the world, and getting carried away by watching good things happen to bad people. As Paul tells us,  we should be straining toward the goal, or putting Christ first.  As the Psalmist in 119 verse 2 says; Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts.  The world will let us down every time but the peace of Christ transcends our worldly worries because He reigns forever!   

 

 

July 26, 2021

Crime Flourishes When It Goes Unchecked

Ecclesiastes talks on the subject of justice and what happens when there is lack of it:

Ecc 8:11  When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.

When sin goes unchecked, it spreads like a cancer.  We look back at the wicked Kings of Israel that followed after Solomon, who ironically wrote this verse, idolatry began to creep into Israel, and by the time we get to King Ahaz, the Kingdom is in full blown idol worship.  What would have happened had Solomon or his son Rehoboam made the right reforms once that Baal worship started.  Unfortunately, it went on unrestrained, and finally God handed Israel and Judah over to the Bablyonians and it was what became one of the most horrendous siege’s in all of human history.  

As the verse reminds us, when crime goes unpunished, others see folks getting away with it and they too themselves decide to have a taste.  

You could tie that in to today’s lax laws against crimes.  Back in the days of Mosaic law, if a thief was caught stealing, their hands were cut off.  IF you mention that in today’s culture, it is considered inhumane.  However, crime flourishes nowadays because criminal cases are tied up in courts for years and the bad guys go often go free due to “technicalities”. 

One has to wonder if we introduced Mosaic law today, what that would do to the crime rates.  

Regardless of what part of era we are in, what Paul said back in 1st Corinthians remains true today, a little eaven or (sin) leavens the whole lump.  Once you open the door for the one bad apple, the rest is quickly spoiled.  Crime that goes unchecked is seen by others and is interpreted as free licensure to commit their own wicked deeds freely.  

So harkening back to allowing a little Leaven or a little sin or a little crime, just don’t do it.  A good standard to live our own lives by and for our leaders, lawmakers and judges to think on too.  

July 23, 2021

The Vanity of Bravado

Solomon takes a cynical look at the deaths of crooks, we could apply this to our own politicians, who despite pilfering their constituents for years and engaging in corruption, because they are politicians, they get these grandiose state funerals.  

Here’s what Solomon sounds out for us: 

Ecc 8:10  And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.

Solomon is telling us, I watched crooks get nice funerals, they were crooks but they went to church and proclaimed their own righteousness.  But despite their crimes, their self righteousness, their living a life of lies, they are buried and then soon forgotten.  

Solomon concludes with a word that is often used in Ecclesiastes; vanity, or meaningless. Saying what’s the point of all that bravado?  We celebrate their lives and their deaths but miss the opportunity in pointing out their double standards.  

It’s like when an important person dies, they get a much larger funeral than a regular-Joe.  But like the regular Joe, they are eventually forgotten.  

This might be a controversial take, but look at Kennedy and Oswald.  Both died on the same weekend in the same city; Kennedy had the most massive funeral on record, meanwhile Oswald had maybe 3 people show up at his, but at the end of the day, they are both in the ground and chances are, in two generation, no one will remember either of them. 

A sobering reminder not to take this life too seriously, but the next life, the eternal one, is the one that counts and the only way to the Father is through The Son.  

July 22, 2021

The Inevitable End

So far in our Ecclesiastes Chapter 8 study, we have the preacher Solomon pondering the uncertainties of life, not knowing when bad things are going to happen, along with the anxiety of not knowing the future brings.  In today’s Word, Solomon acknowledges that while we don’t know when our lives here on earth will end, Solomon points out that they will indeed end.  

Ecc 8:8  No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it.

Ecc 8:9  All this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had power over man to his hurt.

Solomon seems to have presented this with war time in mind, saying that even if one nation conquers another, both the conquerer and the conquered still face the same fate, which is death. 

This is absolutely true, Persian dynasties of yesteryear are no more.  Babylon is now Iraq.  Outside of history class, the Roman Empire is just an afterthought.  Kingdoms, dynasties, monarchs, and presidencies come and go.   

We can also apply this with a modern lens, unless we are really well versed in history, how many of us can say who the President was when our parents and grandparent were born?  

No matter how mighty a ruler might seem at the present time, they come, they live and are eventually forgotten, just like we will be.  

As self righteous and self absorbed as we tend to be, we too will eventually be met with the same death that Solomon speaks of.  

So while we are all headed to the grave in this life, the one that comes after has no end.  We could get called by God tomorrow, so today we confess and repent Christ, because through Him is eternal life, or a life that doesn’t end, as opposed to this one we’re in now.  

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