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?

 

Wonderfully Made

Think for a moment of the power, beauty, and majesty of a galloping horse—his head held high, his mane flying in the wind, and his legs working in unison to provide speed, power, and abandon.

What a wonderful example of God’s magnificent creation is the horse! God created it not just for our amazement and enjoyment but also as a complement to the human race (Job 39). Properly trained, the horse is fearless when we need a courageous companion. The horse was used to carry the soldier faithfully into conflict with speed (v.24) and anticipation (v.25).

Although God was using creation to teach Job about His sovereignty, we can also be reminded through this passage about our own value in God’s world. We are created not simply as a beautiful creature with a job to do but also as a creature made in God’s image. The power of the horse is amazing, but the value of each human transcends all other creatures.

God created us uniquely to have a relationship with Him and to live with Him forever. While we praise God for the magnificence of the creatures of nature, we also stand in awe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14).

 

Keep praying

by Adrian Rogers

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
There’s an old song with the refrain “Just keep on praying ‘til light breaks through.” When you don’t feel like praying, that’s when you need to. You need to pray until you do feel like praying. You see, you’re not praying by yourself. The Spirit is praying through you and for you, helping to present your petitions to the Father — petitions that perhaps you yourself are not even capable of expressing. Do not approach God with your hands full of the brass of your emotions. Rather, approach Him with hands and heart full of the sweet incense of His worth. Just keep praying.

ACTION POINT:
How’s your prayer life? Do you say grace before meals and squeeze in a quick prayer before you drop off to sleep each night? Take some time today to talk to the Lord.

Friday Funnies

from mikeysFunnies.com

On their second anniversary, a husband sent flowers to his wife at the office. He told the florist to write “Happy Anniversary, Year Number 2!” on the card.

She was thrilled with the flowers, but not so pleased about the card which read: “Happy Anniversary. You’re Number 2.”   [forwarded by Gretchen Patti]                  

~ ~ ~

A guy comes into a coffee shop and places his order: “I want 3 flat tires & a pair of headlights”

The waitress, not wanting to appear stupid, goes to the kitchen & asks the cook, “This guy out there just ordered 3 flat tires & a pair of headlights.

What does he think this is, an auto parts store?!”

“No,” the cook says, “3 flat tires means 3 pancakes & a pair of headlights is 2 eggs sunny side up.”

“Oh,” says the waitress. She thinks about this and then she spoons up a bowl of beans and gives it to the customer.

The guy says “What are the beans for?”

The waitress replies “I thought that, while you’re waiting for the flat tires & headlights, you might want to gas up.”

Bible Study

In this chapter the writer describes the extent of his search for the meaning of life “under the sun.”  He explored mirth and pleasure, finding them to be vanity.  He experimented with wine and folly, while

guiding himself with his wisdom.  Not withholding anything his eyes desired, he used his great wealth to build and accumulate everything his heart wanted.  He certainly enjoyed himself while doing it (1-10).

Yet when the writer looked back on all he had done, he found it to be vanity and grasping for the wind.  Reflecting upon the comparative value of wisdom and folly, he did find wisdom to excel folly.  But he also observed that death came to both the wise and the fool, and both soon forgotten, this prompted him to hate life.  Even his accumulated wealth provided little respite, for he must leave it to one who may prove to be a fool.  Thus he found such efforts to be grievous, leading one to sorrowful days and restless nights (11-23).

He concludes it is best to eat and drink, enjoying what good there is in one’s labor.  He realized, however, that the ability to truly enjoy life is a gift from God.  He saw that God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to a man who is good in His sight.  To the sinner, God might give  the ability to gather and collect great wealth, but it eventually winds up in the hands of him who is good before God.  Thus much labor without God’s blessing is truly vanity and grasping for the wind (24-26).

I. THE  SEARCH FOR MEANING (2:1-10)

A. SUMMARY OF HIS SEARCH (1-2)

      1. He tested mirth and pleasure, and found them to be vanity

      2. He found laughter to be madness, and mirth to accomplish little

B. DESCRIPTION OF HIS SEARCH (3-10)

      1. He experimented with wine and folly

         a. While guiding himself with wisdom

         b. Seeking to find what is good for men to do “under heaven all the days of their lives”

      2. He made many things

         a. Houses and vineyards

         b. Gardens and orchards

         c. Water pools to water fruit trees

      3. He acquired whatever he wanted

         a. Male and female servants, with more born in his house

         b. Herds and flocks, more than any in Jerusalem before him

         c. Silver, gold, special treasures of kings and provinces

         d. Male and female singers, musical instruments of all kinds

      4. He became great, and seemingly happy

         a. Greater than all in Jerusalem before him

         b. Having all his eyes desired, his heart rejoicing in his labor

II. THE REFLECTION UPON THE SEARCH (2:11-23)

A. REFLECTING UPON HIS LABOR (11)

      1. Looking back on all his works and labor

      2. Find them to be vanity, grasping for wind

      3. Concluding there was no profit under the sun

  B. REFLECTING UPON WISDOM, MADNESS, AND FOLLY (12-17)

      1. He considered the relative value of wisdom, madness, and folly

      2. He found that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness

      3. Yet the same end (death) befalls the wise and the fool, and both are soon forgotten

      4. Prompting him to hate life for its vanity and grasping for the wind

C. REFLECTING UPON HIS WEALTH (18-23)

      1. He came to hate his labor and toil under the sun

         a. Because he must leave it to one after him

         b. Not knowing whether those who inherit it will be wise or foolish

      2. He came to despair his labor under the sun

         a. For despite one’s wisdom, knowledge and skill, one’s heritage must be left to one who has not     

l

}”abored for it

         b. This he concluded was vanity and a great evil

         c. In the end, all one had as a result of his labor and the striving of his heart:

            1) Sorrowful days, restless nights

            2) Grievous works, leading to vanity

III. THE  CONCLUSION FROM THE SEARCH (24-26)

A. MAN SHOULD ENJOY THE GOOD IN HIS LABOR (24a)

      1. There is nothing better

      2. Than to eat, drink, and to enjoy good in one’s labor

B. THE ABILITY TO ENJOY IS A GIFT FROM GOD (24b-26)

      1. He saw that this was a gift from God

      2. For no one can truly enjoy life without God

        a. To those good in His sight, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy

         b. To the sinner, God gives the work of gathering and collecting

            1) To give to the one who is good before God

            2) For the sinner, his work becomes vanity and grasping the wind

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER

1) What are the main points of this chapter?

   – The Preacher’s search for meaning (1-10)

   – The Preacher’s reflection upon his search (11-23)

   – The Preacher’s conclusion from his search (24-26)

2) In his search, what sort of things did the Preacher explore? (1-3)

   – Mirth and pleasure

   – Wine and folly

3) What guided his heart during the course of his search? (3)

   – Wisdom (perhaps that given the Preacher by God?)

4) What things did he accumulate during his search? (4-8)

   – Houses and vineyards

   – Gardens and orchards

   – Fruit trees and water pools to water them

   – Male and female servants, along with servants born in his house

   – Herds and flocks

   – Silver, gold, special treasures

   – Male and female singers, musical instruments of all kinds

5) How great did he become?  What stayed with him? (9)

   – Greater than all who were in Jerusalem before him

   – His wisdom

6) What did he get? (10)

   – Whatever his eyes desired, any pleasure his heart wanted

7) What was his reaction to this great accumulation of wealth? (10-11)

   – He rejoiced in his labor

   – But looking back on his works, he found them vanity and grasping for wind, with no profit under the sun

8) What conclusions were drawn about the value of wisdom and folly?

   (12-16)

   – Wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness

   – Yet death comes to them both, and they are soon forgotten

9) What did this reflection lead him to do?  Why? (17)

   – Hate life

   – Because all work under the sun was grievous, vanity, and grasping for wind

10) What else caused him to hate his labor? (18)

   – The thought that he must leave it to one who comes after him

11) Why did this trouble him? (19-21)

   – For the one who receives his inheritance gained through wisdom, knowledge and skill might prove to be a fool

12) What did he conclude was the result of one’s labor, striving, and toil for things under the sun? (22-23)

   – Sorrowful days, restless nights

   – Grievous work, leading to vanity

13) What did he say was the best man could achieve? (24)

   – To eat and drink, and enjoy good in his labor

14) But who was capable of achieving this? (24-26)

   – The one who was good in God’s sight, to whom God gave wisdom, knowledge, and joy

15) What did the sinner receive?  For what purpose? (26)

   – The task of gathering and collecting

   – To give to him who was good before God

Wade’s Wednesday

Behaviors That Bind Us

By Charles Stanley

It would seem that in a world of such plenty, there should be great contentment. Yet even in the most prosperous countries, the opposite is true in most cases. Why are so many people unhappy, anxious, unsettled, and discontent?

First, it’s because most of the world does not know Jesus Christ personally. Second, many people, even in privileged circumstances, are living on “leftovers”— emotions and attitudes left over from the way they were raised.

For instance, those who as children felt they could never measure up to expectations are likely to experience feelings of inadequacy, rejection, and guilt as adults; they may also deal with resentment and hostility. And grownups who walk away from responsibilities or commitments when they don’t get their way are frequently the ones whose parents caved in to their every desire. This is why it’s so detrimental to respond to children’s temper tantrums by giving in to their demands.

The adult pitfall of low self-esteem often is created by a lack of childhood acceptance and affirmation. It’s important for children to learn that they are of tremendous value to Christ—their sense of security should come, not from possessions, but from a personal relationship with Him. Otherwise, they may grow into materialistic adults.

The behaviors that bind us start early. By the same token, positive mindsets can also be ingrained at a young age. Let’s take this as a strong reminder to regard children as the gifts they truly are.

Tuesday With Karen

by Karen Icenhour

Psalm 23 Still Lives

The Lord is my Shepherd, He faithfully leads,

Lovingly each day, He supplies my every need;

He makes me, in green pastures, to lie down,

Where still waters from His hand abound.

He restores my soul, if I become weary & weak,

When I cannot walk, His love carries me,

By paths of righteousness, He shows how to live,

He never reminds us of rich blessings He gives.

When I am in the valley, there is nothing to fear,

The Lily of the Valley always stays so very near;

Even when things happen I can’t understand,

He’s walking right beside me, & holding my hand.

He prepares a table before me, & my cup will overflow,

Fellowship by His Spirit will be mine to always know;

Surely goodness & mercy will be mine from the Lord,

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever more!