Bible Study

ECCLESIASTES  4

OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER

1) To reflect upon the writer’s observations gleaned from his search for the purpose of life under the sun

2) To consider the vanity of skillful work, isolation, and popularity

3) To appreciate the value of friendship and working together

SUMMARY

The writer continues to share his observations gleaned during the course of his search for the purpose of life under the sun.  Earlier he related the injustice he saw (cf. 3:16).  Now we are told how he considered those who were oppressed with no comforter.  In such a state, he concluded the dead were better than the living, and better than both was to never be born (1-4).

The writer then describes what he saw as the vanity of toil and skillful work, especially when one is alone.  While one who does  nothing is a fool and consumes his own flesh, it is better to have a  little with quietness than a lot with much toil.  A grave misfortune is the person with no companion, son, nor brother, who labors endlessly  for riches that do not satisfy and does not consider who will receive  that for which he deprives himself of much good in life.  On the other  hand, the writer saw great value in friendship.  He illustrates the  principle of synergy in their work and how they can help one another in times of need (5-12).

The chapter closes with an illustration of the vanity of popularity.   While a young and wise man who becomes king may be popular at first, with the passing of time he is not appreciated by those who come along  later (13-16).

I. THE OPPRESSION OF MEN (4:1-3)

A. WHAT THE PREACHER REVIEWED (1)

      1. He considered the oppression done under the sun

      2. He saw the tears of the oppressed, who had no comforter

      3. He observed power on the side of the oppressors

B. WHAT THE PREACHER REASONED (2-3)

      1. He praised the dead more than the living

      2. Better than both is the person who:

         a. Has never existed

         b. Has not seen the evil work done under the sun

II. THE VANITY OF TOIL AND SKILLFUL WORK (4:4-6)

A. IT BREEDS ENVY IN OTHERS (4)

      1. He saw that toil and skillful labor is envied by others

      2. This too is vanity and grasping for wind

B. TWO WAYS TO REACT TO THIS VANITY (5-6)

      1. The fool does nothing, and consumes his own flesh

      2. It is better to have a little with quietness

III. THE VANITY OF ISOLATION (4:7-12)

A. THE VANITY OF BEING ALONE (7-8)

      1. He saw more vanity under the sun

      2. A person who was alone, without companion, son, or brother

         a. With no end to his labors, with no satisfaction with his riches

         b. Who does not consider for whom he labors and deprives himself of good

      3. This was vanity and a grave misfortune

B. THE VALUE OF FRIENDS (9-12)

      1. Two are better than one, for they have good reward for their labor

      2. If one falls, the other can lift him up

      3. Their combined body heat can keep them warm

      4. They can withstand one who would seek to overpower them

      5. A threefold cord is not quickly broken

IV. THE VANITY OF POPULARITY (4:13-16)

A. A TALE OF TWO MEN (13-15)

    1. It is better to be a poor and wise youth, than an old and foolish king who will not accept criticism

    2. For the young man, though born poor, comes out of prison to become king and the living were with him

B. YET POPULARITY IS SHORT-LIVED (16)

      1. The young king might rule over a populous nation

      2. But another generation will arise that will not rejoice in him

 Victory Baptist Church 29 January 2020 victorypalmetto.com

Wade’s Wednesday

Self-Reliance:
An Unwise Habit

By Charles Stanley

Imagine walking through a crowded airport. You cannot move without bumping into someone. You’re late for your flight, and the wheels just broke on your over-packed suitcase.

With no other option, you’re forced to carry the luggage and slowly maneuver through the congested lobby toward the ticketing area. Almost immediately, a young gentleman offers to carry your bags, but you pridefully refuse. When you realize the ticket counter is two levels up, you make your way to the stairs. Someone asks you if it would be easier to take the elevator. But you are determined to carry your bags.

As you finally make it to the top of the steps, your arms feel numb from the pressure of your bags. Your legs are starting to buckle from the weight. Your back is aching from supporting the heavy load. Then, you spot a collection of unused baggage carts. But you ignore them, self-assured that you can handle the bags yourself.

Isn’t this a silly story? Who would prefer to carry such a heavy burden, ignoring every opportunity to lay it down? And yet, many believers do just that. Our Father has called us to lay our cares at His feet. But when we fail to come to God in prayer, we’re just as foolish as the man staggering with his bags through the airport.

Are you trying to carry a greater burden than you can bear? Don’t ignore God’s offer to help. The truth is, we really can’t “do it ourselves,” and God never wanted us to try.

Tuesday With Karen

This is the prayer my heart has for America.
In Him, Karen Icenhour
IMG_1128
Oh God, Heal America
Oh God, heal America, we need the touch of Thy hand,
You’re the One who changes what we need in our land;
She has made bad decisions, there’s surely no doubt,
The very worst one of all, is deciding to vote You out!
Oh God, we need prayer to come back in our schools,
Now kids bring guns & drugs, things considered ‘cool;’
When we prayed together, & asked for Your direction,
Our schools didn’t see sin doing this bad infection!
Oh God, America needs cleansing from deep inside,
We need You once again to come back in & abide;
Some people full of pride don’t feel there’s a need,
But we were founded upon Christian ways to see!
Oh God, heal America, she needs You back again,
We need Godly leaders to show direction within;
Oh God, we pray for ones who can stand attack,
Give them Your wisdom, we want America back!

 

Slow Time

An American racing enthusiast entered his horse in a British steeplechase. Just before the race began, he slipped his horse a white pellet. The Duke of Marlborough, who was serving as steward, caught the owner in the act and objected. “I say, old man, really you can’t do that sort of thing over here.”

“Just a harmless sugar lump,” the American assured him. He gulped one down himself. “Here, try one,” he said.

The duke took a pill, swallowed it, and seemed satisfied. As his jockey mounted, the American whispered in his ear, “Son, keep that horse on the outside and stay out of trouble, because once he starts running, there ain’t nothing that can catch him…except me and the Duke of Marlborough!”

Do you ever feel that way – running so fast that nothing can catch you? We Americans are accused of living in fast time. And I think that much of the rest of the world can relate. How often do we rush here and hurry there? Or inhale our fast food? We have “just a minute” for friends. We even use words like “running an errand.” We rely on lightning speed e-mail and speak of the old system as “snail mail.”

We live in fast time. Too often, we run so fast we lose our center. Or we lament, “I wish I could, but I don’t have the time….”

How can that be? How can we live so fast and not have time?

An attorney, reflecting on his childhood, said that the greatest gift he ever received in his life was a note his father gave him on Christmas. It read, “Son, this year I will give you 365 hours. An hour every day after dinner. We’ll talk about whatever you want to talk about. We’ll go wherever you want to go, play whatever you want to play. It will be your hour.” That dad kept his promise and renewed it every year.

I call that slow time. It’s time that is not relentlessly measured by a clock. Slow time is time to be; time to experience life.

I gave my children a similar gift. I gave the gift of a breakfast out once a week. Just me and one of my sons. No agenda. No problem-solving. No scolding. Just listening. Talking about whatever he wanted to talk about. It became a time to learn about him, to laugh with him and to show him that, for the next hour or so, my time was his alone. It was the gift of slow time between a father and his son. And often it was the most important time I spent all day.

It’s important to find enough slow time. For in the end, it’s not how fast you and I live our lives that matters, or how much we accomplish in a day. Are you taking time to enjoy? Is there time to listen to a friend or visit a relative in need? Are you leaving time each day to nurture your soul?

Are you finding slow time? After all, if life is a race, the winners are not those who run fastest, but rather those who run well. It takes plenty of slow time to run well.

– Steve Goodier

Lost

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.” Luke 2: 41-45
 
Maybe you have been in a store with a small child and look up and they are GONE! I break out in a cold sweat and your heart starts racing. You look around the corner there they sitting playing with a new found friend. It must have been an awful feeling for Mary and Joseph when they realized that they lost their son, Jesus. They fainlly found Him in the temple after three days. Let’s look back to the beginning of this story. Verses 43 and 44 tell us, “And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.” Jesus tarried in Jerusalem, in the temple, and Joseph and Mary didn’t realize that He was not with them. You go to church and worship on Sunday, but do you leave Jesus at church? Do you talk with Him in prayer daily? Do you read His Word and let Him speak to you during the week? It is sad that many people who claim to love the Lord, don’t realize that they leave Him behind at church on Sunday, just “supposing” that He is with them.

When I Pass Through the Waters, Danny Ray

A small bird got into the store today, it was flying everywhere trying to find a way out. Customers tried to catch it, employees tried to caught it, but if would always fly away. I had to go up stairs to the office to place an order on the computer, I looked up and there set the little bird on one of the beams. I spent about half and hour doing the order and the little bird just set there watching. When I got up to go back downstairs the little bird flew away, later to escape out the front doors. For a few hours the little bird was the talk of the store, but after it got out, the topic changed to something else. I was reminded of the life of people that come into our lives. It seems like for a moment they are the subject of every conversation, then they are gone. Sometimes they just move away or start a family or just busy at work.  Sometimes death calls them unexpectedly. This past Christmas (2008) I got the phone call no one ever wants to get, one of my family members had been accidentally shot, and died. Danny Ray Smith was one of three boys and the son of my brother Butch and his wife Mary. Danny Ray was the middle boy and seemed to have a sweet side that would steal your heart. Often our paths would cross while shopping or at a cafe, he would always call out, “Hey Uncle David!’ we would give each other a big hug and promise to get together, we never would. Sometimes at family reunions Danny Ray would come and bring his family. We all would have a great time and say, “We need to get together.” but never seemed to find the time. So, now we are all getting together and talking about good times and wishing we had gotten together earlier. Danny Ray is missed and his family still needs much prayer. God’s Word promises us comfort in times of sorrow, we must embrace these truths.

Isaiah 63:9 In all their affliction he was afflicted,

Psalms 130:1 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. 2 Lord, hear my voice:

Isaiah 43:1b Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour:

Bible Study

ECCLESIASTES 3

In the first two chapters, the writer described the extent of his  search for the purpose of life under the sun.  In this chapter, and the three to follow, he shares observations gleaned during the course of his search.

In a well-known passage, we are told that to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.  The writer has seen that God has given man the task to seek out God’s purpose by putting  eternity in man’s heart.  But then he also saw that no one is able to find out what God does from beginning to end, and no one can change

what He decides to do.  Why does God act this way?  Why are His purposes often incomprehensible?  The writer offers that God does this so man might fear before Him, seeing that God will require an  account for what is done.  This prompts the writer to state again (cf. 2:24-26) what he believes is the best one can do:  to rejoice, do

good, to eat and drink, enjoying the good in their labor.  This he concludes is the gift of God (1-15).

Next he describes what he saw “under the sun”.  In places were there should have been judgment and righteousness, he saw wickedness and  iniquity!  Why does God allow it?  He reasoned in his heart that God  will judge the righteous and wicked, and that there must be a time for every purpose and for every work.  He told himself that God tests men, to help them see that they are little different from beasts.  Both man  and beasts die, and both return to the dust.  From a purely earthly  perspective, there is no advantage of man over beasts, for one cannot see whether the spirit of man goes upward (but cf. 12:7) while the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth.  This led him to the perception stated once again (cf. 2:24-26; 3:12-13), that it is best for a man to rejoice in his works.  This is man’s heritage, for who can bring one (back) to see what will happen (on the earth) after him (16-22)?

I. THE INEXPLICABLE PURPOSE OF GOD (3:1-15)

   A. A TIME FOR EVERY PURPOSE (1-8)

      1. To everything there is a season

      2. A time for every purpose under heaven

         a. A time to be born, and a time to die

         b. A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted

         c. A time to kill, and a time to heal

         d. A time to break down, and a time to build up

         e. A time to weep, and a time to laugh

         f. A time to mourn, and a time to dance

         g. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones

         h. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing

         i. A time to gain, and a time to lose

         j. A time to keep, and a time to throw away

         k. A time to tear, and a time to sew

         l. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak

         m. A time to love, and a time to hate

         n. A time of war, and a time of peace

   B. MAN’S INABILITY TO FIND OUT GOD’S PURPOSE (9-15)

      1. God has put it in man to seek out what he cannot find

         a. Again, the Preacher asks what profit there is in one’s labor

         b. He sees that God has:

            1) Given man the task with which to be occupied

            2) Made everything beautiful in its time

            3) Put eternity in man’s heart

         c. Yet no one can find the work that God does from beginning to end

      2. What the Preacher concludes is best for people to do

         a. Rejoice, and do good in their lives

         b. Eat, drink, and enjoy the good of all their labor

         c. It is the gift of God (cf. 2:24-26)

      3. What the Preacher offers as God’s reason for the way He works

         a. He knows that what God does, man cannot change

         b. God acts the way He does, that men should fear before Him

         c. For God requires an account of what is past (done)

II. THE INJUSTICE AND WICKEDNESS OF MEN (3:16-22)

   A. WHAT THE PREACHER SAW (16)

      1. In the place of judgment, there was wickedness

      2. In the place of righteousness, there was iniquity

   B. WHAT THE PREACHER REASONED (17-21)

      1. God will judge the righteous and the wicked

      2. There must be a time for every purpose and for every work

      3. God evidently allows injustice to test the hearts of men

         a. That they may see that they are like beasts

         b. That what happens to beasts will happen to them

            1) As one dies, so dies the other

            2) Man has no advantage over beasts

            3) All return to the dust

         c. Who knows that the spirit of man goes upward, and the

            spirit of the beast goes downward?

   C. WHAT THE PREACHER CONCLUDED (22)

   1. There is nothing better than rejoicing in one’s own works, which is his heritage

   2. For who can bring man to see what will happen after him?

 Victory Baptist Church 22 January 2020 victorypalmetto.com

Wade’s Wednesday

Ringing Reminders

By Bill Crowder

The clock tower at Westminster, which contains the bell known as Big Ben, is an iconic landmark in London, England. It is traditionally thought that the melody of the tower chimes was taken from the tune of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from Handel’s Messiah. Words were eventually added and put on display in the clock room: “Lord, through this house be Thou our guide; so by Thy power no foot shall slide.”

These words allude to Psalm 37: “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand” (vv. 23). Verse 31 adds, “The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.”

How extraordinary! The Creator of the universe not only upholds us and helps us but He also cares deeply about every moment we live. No wonder the apostle Peter was able to confidently invite us to “cast all your cares “anxiety” on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). As the assurance of His care rings in our hearts, we find courage to face whatever comes our way.

Loving Father, thank You that every part of my life matters to You. Encourage me in my struggles so that I might walk in a way that reflects Your great love and honors Your great name.

Tuesday With Karen

Christ Is The Answer
Christ is the Answer to any question we ask,
He’s the perfect Son of God, the First & the Last;
He died on Calvary’s cross to cover all our sin,
The blood He shed back then is still saving men!
Christ is the Answer for any storm that rages,
The peace we’re given is by the Rock of Ages;
He’s the solution to anything we may face,
Always providing more than enough grace!
Christ is the Answer to all that’s done right,
Comforter, Teacher, also our Guiding Light;
He came to this earth to live as a man,
So, our emotions, He fully understands!
Christ is the Answer to all we’ll see this year,
He hears if we pray, to Him, drawing near;
He rules by awesome wisdom from on High,
Taking time to listen when His children cry!

**1st one of 2020!

Contentment

Job 42:16 After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations.17 So Job died, being old and full of days.

The book of Job ends on a note of contentment and peace. Job was probably about seventy when the book opens, so he is an old man. What a picture of peace, a contented man. God had greatly blessed him.

Before us stretches a new year, a new beginning. The old is past, put away forever. God invites us always to forget about all the distrust and fears, all the anxieties of the past, all the resentments we have been holding against others, all the grudges, all the criticisms–to put them away and begin again.

The question that hovers over us as we close this book (and I feel it deeply in my own heart) is, on what basis am I going to live in this New Year? Will it be on the old basis of it-all-depends-on-me, do-it-yourself goodness before God, trying my best to be pleasing to God and meaning it with all my heart but never realizing the depths of evil with which I have to deal? Or will I accept the gift of God that is waiting for me every day, fresh from His hand, a gift of forgiveness, of righteousness already mine, of a relationship in which He is my dear Father and I am his cherished, beloved son, and in which I therefore have provided for me all I need, all day long, so that I may say no to evil and yes to truth and right?

Will it be on that basis? If it is, this will be a year in which my life will be characterized by peace, fragrance, and beauty. And so will yours. Or, if we insist on living it on the same old basis, we will find ourselves like these friends of Job, arousing the anger and the wrath of God. Though He is patient and merciful, our only escape will be to repent of our evil and rest upon the righteousness of our perfect substitute and return to God for the blessing that He is waiting to give. That is the choice before us, every one of us. How are we going to live in this New Year?

Lord, thank You for this new year that lies before me. I choose You. I choose to depend on You, trust You, and accept from Your hand all that You would give me.

Life Application: Before us stretches a new year, a new beginning. The old is past, put away forever. On which one of the two bases are we going to live in this New Year?