Worship, Sunday, February 5 2023
      • Bible Trivia
      • Bible Trivia
      • Bible Trivia
      • Bible Trivia
      • Psalm 15GODSWORD

  • Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord
  • I Give All To You
  • I Surrender All (hymn 596)
  • Take My Life And Let It Be
      • Matthew 5.13-14ESV

      • Matthew 5.15-16ESV

      • Ecclesiastes 8:10–17ESV

  • We’re continuing on in our journey through the book of Ecclesiastes. This book is written by Qoholeth, which is translated as “the Preacher” or “the Teacher” depending on your translation, but is used as a personal pronoun throughout the book. The author wants to be attributed to Solomon, the son of King David, however the time frame of it’s authorship puts it after Solomon’s reign over Israel and his death.
    The book of Ecclesiastes is one of the books of Wisdom in the Bible. The others being Proverbs and Job.
    These days we think of wisdom as something that is rare, and as we read through these books of wisdom we might find much to support that idea. Yet the author points out over and over again that if we take a step back and look at it from a broader perspective it is, to put it in our common vernacular, common sense. And as we know common sense is not necessarily common.
    Let me give you and example: Years ago I had recently moved to a new church and was setting up my apartment and office. While visiting my local Home Depot I found they had a sale on potted plants. So I took some time and selected a few, one of which came in a ceramic pot with a saucer to catch the excess water, it was on special. Happy with the new treasures I’d found I made my way to the lines at the registers.
    As the cashier is ringing up my items, I’m getting out my checkbook (this was back in the days when we wrote checks at the store) and I could hear the beeps for each item. When she got to the plant that came in the ceramic pot on special I heard two beeps. I stopped.
    “Excuse me, did you just ring up that potted plant twice?”
    “Oh, no,” she smiled, “one is for the plant and one is for the pot.”
    “But it’s a potted plant.”
    “I know, but it’s a special pot, so I have to charge for the plant and for the pot.”
    “How can you charge me two prices for one item? It’s a potted plant, it comes with the pot, and it’s on special.”
    “One price is for the ceramic pot, and one is for the plant.”
    “Okay, then take the plant out of the pot and put it in a plastic bag, I’ll plant it in a pot at home.”
    “I can’t do that.”
    “Why not?”
    “It’s one item.”
    “Exactly! So you can only charge me one price!” My exasperation was clearly showing, as a manager came over.
    The manager asked, “Is there something I can help with?”
    The cashier, also clearly exasperated explained the situation, “He wants to buy this plant and it comes in this pot and so I rang up the plant and the pot and he doesn’t want to pay for both items, he only wants me to charge him one price for them. And now he wants me to take the plant out of the pot and pay only for the plant.”
    The manager looked at the cashier in disbelief. “Duh! It’s a potted plant. You can only charge one price for it.”
    I look back on that exchange and I laugh at both the situation and how exasperated I got in the midst of it.
    What Qoholeth is doing so well is taking a step back. For those of you who are familiar with family system theory, one could say that he’s inviting us to remove ourselves from the triangle, not allowing ourselves to be pulled into the anxiety. In this case the anxiety of the moment.
    When speaking of the wicked individuals that used to gin and out of the holy place and were praised, Qoholeth comments he saw them buried. This too is vanity, and tells us why:
    Ecclesiastes 8:11 ESV
    Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.
    We may never see the sentence carried out. Eternity is a long time. It is as one person put it, the ultimate in delayed gratification. Yet we have a hope,
    Ecclesiastes 8:12 ESV
    Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him.
    There is great wisdom there. We know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
    Romans 3:23 ESV
    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    So we could all be categorized as the sinner who does evil a hundred times - sometimes our actions may prolong our life here on earth and sometimes it may not. Either way, this world is not all there is.
    Verses 14-15:
    Ecclesiastes 8:14 ESV
    There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.
    This line is specifically a statement to the question of “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and it’s opposite, “why do good things happen to bad people?”
    Our seeking to understand this is truly vanity as the Preacher tells us, it is a chasing after the wind. We don’t know.
    We often hear it said when a good person enduring some tragedy, violence, or chronic disease, “it isn’t fair.”
    To which the cynic says, “Life isn’t fair.” What they’re really saying, without knowing it is, “You’re not in control,” which is true. So who is?
    We know the answer, as Christians, and so the question for us is though we may know the answer in our head, do we know the answer in our heart?
    Qoholeth speaks to us in vs. 16 & 17
    Ecclesiastes 8:16–17 ESV
    When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
    In our faith, as Christians there are those that have a sense of prosperity, some might call it the prosperity Gospel. “If you follow God, everything will go right for you.”
    Yet, I don’t think there is one of us here who would say every single thing in their life has gone exactly how they would have chosen it to go. Perhaps as you look back you’re glad they went as they did, but in that moment?
    This is why the prosperity gospel message doesn’t work. To say that if you follow God everything will go well for you, you will be rich, you will have good health is a slap in the face to those who have endured atrocities, poverty, and disease.
    An evangelist friend died of leukemia, a pastor mentor died of an incurable disease, a church member lives in chronic pain, a youth pastor in an instant becomes a quadraplaegic in an instant, and in my own life journey a surgery with hopeful promises of better hearing left me deaf in my right ear. Myself and all of these others were and are doing their best to live according to God’s commands. These are not claims of prosperity, but they are not for us to wallow in our own self pity either.
    When one reads through the book of Ecclesiastes we can get this idea that life is meaningless, and if that were true then we might as well just give up, just point out everything that is wrong, and wallow in the negative circumstance that we find ourselves in. But that is not the message of Ecclesiastes.
    The wisdom of Qoholeth is the truth that life is not meaningless. No, it is and always has been about our relationship with God. I would contend that the entire Bible is constantly pointing us to that relationship.
    Our key verse this morning comes from Eccl 8:15
    Ecclesiastes 8:15 ESV
    And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
    God has given you this day. Be joyful. Eat and enjoy, savor the food God has provided. Drink and be thankful, God provides our drink to satisfy that thirst. This day is a gift, not anything we’ve earned through our good acts, it’s a gift to you from our loving God, so we can eat and drink and be joyful. Be joyful for the toil we have - opportunities to learn, to grow, to create. Be joyful.

    Wisdom 101

    This is really common sense that we don’t have control of our lives. Yet, that sense is not so common. It really is much more obvious when we stop and take a look as if from the outside.
    This really is wisdom 101. God is in control - you aren’t. And that is a relief not a problem.
    To God be the glory!
      • Ecclesiastes 8:11ESV

      • Ecclesiastes 8:12ESV

      • Romans 3:23ESV

      • Ecclesiastes 8:14ESV

      • Ecclesiastes 8:16–17ESV

      • Ecclesiastes 8:15ESV

  • In Remembrance
  • O Bless The Gifts
  • Soon And Very Soon
      • Bible Trivia

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