One of the most beautiful stories of God’s faithfulness is found in the book of Ruth. It is a story of how God brings blessing and fulfills His plan of redemption of mankind through the person of one gentile woman named Ruth. Ruth is a Moabites and she is married into an Israelite family. When her father-in-law dies and her own husband dies and her broth-in-law dies, she is left without hope for a family and a future. She pledges herself to her mother-in-law, Naomi and her God, Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews. They travel together to Naomi’s home of Bethlehem. It is there by God’s providence and direction that she meets Boaz, who is to be her Kinsman Redeemer. The Kinsman Redeemer was a provision under Jewish law whereby the closest male relative to a widow who is childless could marry her and have children by her. She and her children would have protection and financial provision by becoming part of the family of the Kinsman Redeemer. The widow would be saved from a future life of poverty and desolation. And along with Ruth the future of Naomi is preserved as well. I like the way the story ends. When Ruth gives birth to her first child by Boaz, we are told: “Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” And it is from this line that the Messiah, Jesus comes. (Ruth 4:16-17) There is a new beginning for Ruth and Naomi.
by S. Allen
God tells Elijah to go and stand on the mountain and wait for the Lord to pass by. The Bible tells us that three big events happened: a raging wind passed by, an earthquake and a fire. However Elijah was not able to see God in those instances. The Bible continues to say that after all of that, there came a still small voice. It was in that still small voice that Elijah was able to hear and see God.
I saw God through the sun rises and the sunsets, through the smiles and the laughter, through the dancing and singing, I saw God in the little things.
At the beginning of each new year, experts give their predictions about the economy, politics, weather, and a host of other topics. Will there be war or peace? Poverty or prosperity? Progress or stagnation? People everywhere are hoping that this year will be better than last, but no one knows what will happen.
There is, however, something we can be certain about. A guest speaker at my church suggested that when we ask if the world will get better or worse, the answer is “Yes, to both!”
Paul told Timothy, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.; . . .But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;” (2 Tim. 3:1,13-14).
The inspired Word of God instructs, corrects, and encourages us as we follow God’s path (vv.16-17). J. B. Phillips described the Scriptures as our “comprehensive equipment” that prepares us fully for all branches of God’s work.
As the spiritual darkness of our world grows deeper, the light of Christ shines more brightly through all those who know and love Him. Jesus is our joy and hope—today, tomorrow, and forever!
As I pulled into the gas station, I noticed a woman trying to push her car toward the pump. Having always considered myself a Good Samaritan, I parked and joined her in pushing her car. “What are you doing?” she asked. “I’m giving you a hand,” I said. “What are you doing?” “I’m stretching before my run.”
The interviewer greets the next applicant for the job of night watchman. His first question is: “What are your qualifications for the job of night watchman?” The applicant replies, “The slightest noise wakes me up.”
My goal for 2020 is to accomplish the goals I set in 2019,
which I should have done in 2018,
because I promised to do them in 2017
and planned to do them in 2016.
The Bible is never shy about confronting painful or hard questions. This book faces them head on and tells us how to find meaning of life in light of the seemly futile nature of everything. Much is to be learned by comparing one part of Scripture with another. Here we see Solomon returning from the broken and empty wells of the world, to the Fountain of living water; recording his own folly and shame, the bitterness of his disappointment, and the lessons he had learned. Those that have taken warning to turn and live, should warn others not to go on and die. He does not merely say all things are vain, but that they are vanity. VANITY OF VANITIES, ALL IS VANITY. The root word “hebel”means to be empty or without meaning, meaningless. This is the text of the preacher’s sermon, of which in this book he never loses sight. If this world, in its present state, were all there is to life, it would not be worth living for; and the wealth and pleasure of this world, if we had ever so much, are not enough to make us happy. What profit has a man of all his labour? All he gets by it will not supply the wants of the soul, nor satisfy its desires; will not atone for the sins of the soul, nor hinder the loss of it: what profit will the wealth of the world be to the soul in death, in judgment, or in the everlasting state?
MEET THE PREACHER 1:1
The autobiographical profile of the book’s writer unmistakably points to Solomon. Evidence abounds such as: 1) the titles fit Solomon, “son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1) and “king over Israel in Jerusalem” (1:12); 2) the author’s moral odyssey chronicles Solomon’s life (1 Kin. 2–11); and 3) the role of one who “taught the people knowledge” and wrote “many proverbs” (12:9) corresponds to his life. All point to Solomon, the son of David, as the author.
I. Life is meaningless without Jesus 1-2 II. Hard work is meaningless without Jesus 3-8
III. History is meaningless without Jesus 9-11
I. PROLOGUE TO THE BOOK (1:1-3)
A. AUTHOR IDENTIFIED (1)
1. The words of the Preacher
2. The son of David, king in Jerusalem
B. THEME STATED (2)
1. “Vanity of vanities…vanity of vanities, all is vanity”
2. All is futile, useless, meaningless!
C. QUESTION RAISED (3)
1. “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils
under the sun?”
2. This is the question the “Preacher” sought to answer
II. FUTILITY OBSERVED IN THE CYCLES OF LIFE (1:4-11)
A. NOTHING SEEMS TO CHANGE (4-7)
1. Generations come and go, while the earth abides forever
2. The sun is constant with its rising and setting
3. The winds continue their whirling cycle
4. The water cycle also, as rivers run into the seas, then through evaporation and rain return to the rivers again
B. NOTHING SEEMS TO SATISFY (8)
1. Despite all our labors, man is never truly satisfied
2. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing
C. NOTHING IS NEW UNDER THE SUN (9-11)
1. What will be done is that which has been done
2. If thought to be new, it is has been done in ancient times
3. We simply don’t remember the past, nor will the future remember the present
III. THE FUTILITY OF HUMAN WISDOM (1:12-18)
A. THE PREACHER DESCRIBES HIS SEARCH (12-15)
1. He was king over Israel in Jerusalem
2. He determined to use wisdom to seek and search all that has been done “under heaven”
3. A task that he understood God had given to all men, to challenge them
4. He summarizes what he found, having seen all the works done “under the sun”
a. They are vanity and grasping for the wind
b. For there is little one can do to make significant changes
B. THE PREACHER APPLIED HIS GOD-GIVEN WISDOM (16-17a)
1. He acknowledged the greatness and wisdom he had attained
2. He therefore sought to apply it to understand wisdom, madness, and folly
C. THE PREACHER CONCLUDES (HUMAN) WISDOM IS FUTILE (17b-18)
1. It was like grasping for wind
2. More wisdom and knowledge just increases grief and sorrow
lV. WHAT IS THE ANSWER? JOHN 7:37….Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
I John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Victory Baptist Church 08 January 2020 victorypalmetto.com
No Time or Place to Quit
By R. J. Evans
“While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God
while I have my being” (Psa. 146:2).
The above words of the Psalmist reveal his plans to faithfully serve the Lord as long as he lived. No doubt, he realized that faithfully serving the Lord brings many blessings and joys now, as well as the eternal reward in heaven later. To be a child of God who faithfully serves the Lord is more important than anything else one can do in this life. Yet, there are some Christians who are not always faithful to the Lord. In my own mind, I can think of a large number who I’ve known through the years who have fallen away and no longer serve God.
It is easy serving God when all is going well. But everyone needs to realize that self-denial and cross-bearing are involved (Matt. 16:12, 15). The Apostle Paul tells us that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
A child of God must be so careful not to allow the attractions of this world to get in his way (1 Jn. 2:15-17). Therefore, all Christians must be sincere and serious about serving God, as well as dependent upon Him for strength. The wise man stated, “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small” (Prov. 24:10).
Jesus had many factors working against Him during His time on this earth, but He never fainted. Men despised and rejected Him (Isa. 53:3), and ultimately crucified Him. While on earth He quoted the words which had been prophesied concerning Him in Psalm 69:4 — “They hated Me without a cause” (Jn. 15:25). But through it all, in His prayer to His Father, He could say, “I have finished the work which you have given Me to do” (Jn. 17:4). Nothing ever caused Him to give up and quit!
Jesus was faithful all the way because He had a Cause to live and die for— “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (Heb. 10:9). It is for the same Cause that faithful Christians are assured— “that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight” (Heb. 13:20-21). Moreover, it was doing His Father’s will that concerned Jesus the most. He stated, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (Jn. 6:38). We should have the same desire—to always obey and do the will of God.
May we always faithfully trust and obey God so that nothing will ever hinder or
stop us. There is just too much at stake. There is no time nor place to quit! “Be
faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
Peace Among Our Pieces
There’s peace among our pieces, however great or small,
In all that takes place, He’s still Lord of all;
If storms are blowing in from every way,
“Peace, be still” are words He can sweetly say!
There’s peace among our pieces, deep down within our heart,
His hand remolds us with love that never departs;
He’s walking with us through all we will face,
Leading the right way as He pours out His grace!
There’s peace among our pieces, in everything we’ll see,
The Bread of Life from Heaven still meets every need;
He knows every step our feet will ever take,
God’s word promises He’ll be there all the way!
There’s peace among our pieces, given by our loving Lord,
He’s the Giver of Peace, & will be forevermore;
When we’re in the midst of what we can’t understand,
Sweet peace is ours to know He is still in command!
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3
Well, that old “holiday”, Halloween is getting closer and I’ve already seen lots of Halloween decorations in the stores. Another thing we have to look forward to this time of year is all those scary movie advertisements. What’s with that anyway? Actually most of them don’t look scary, just full of violence.
When I was little, those old black and white vampire movies were scary enough for me. Just the look in that vampire’s eyes would send me right under the blanket. I didn’t even need to see any blood. I’d hide my head under the covers until I thought it was safe to come out. Actually I still hold the blanket up in front of my face if I don’t want to see something gorey or scary on television. When I’m smart, I just turn it off. Yes! I admit it. I’m a scaredy-cat!
I got to thinking about being afraid and some of the things that we as Christians are afraid of.
- Things of Our Own Making
Adam in the Garden of Eden comes to mind. Well, what do you know. I guess humans have been scaredy-cats from way back. Here it was at the very beginning of the earth and Adam was “afraid”.Remember Adam and Eve had eaten of the fruit that God told them not to. They weren’t hiding under the covers but they were hiding in the garden.And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:8-10
Breaking fellowship with the Lord is a scary place to be. I know some people live right there most of their lives, getting farther and farther away from God.
There are other consequences of our own making too, not necessarily all rooted in sin. It may be that sometimes we have to make decisions that are hard because we know there are going to be consequences that come along with those decisions.
Sometimes these things of our own making seem to be lurking there like a big shadow in the dark that comes right up to us and shouts, “boo!”.
- Things That Are Bigger Than We Are.
Are you familiar with Goliath and the challenge he gave Saul and the Israelites in 1 Samuel? Here comes that big giant of a Philistine and it sent shivers through those big strong men that were in the army. When I read that chapter I can just hear Goliath’s words of challenge just bellowing out of him. It says that,“When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.” 1 Samuel 17:11Ever have something come in your life that was just bigger than you are? An extremely heavy burden that you’ve had to bear? It looks like a monster in the dark with its big fangs looming over you.
Things that are way bigger than us and make us feel tiny in comparison are one of those things that make us afraid.
- Things That We Don’t Understand.
Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus in Luke chapter 1. The angel came to her and told her that she was chosen to carry the Christ-child. Certainly Mary had reason to be afraid. She didn’t understand what was happening.“And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. ” Luke 1:29, 30I think that the things we don’t understand sometimes are the scariest. It’s hard to deal with those things because we don’t know how to process it or see it in a tangible form.
It’s like the howling sounds of the wind on a dark and stormy night shrieking at us.
- Things That Give Us Immediate Danger.
That story of Peter walking on the water comes to my mind. Remember how he got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. He was fine until he started looking around and took his eyes off of the Lord.“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Matthew 14:30, 31 Peter’s fear was of immediate danger. He thought he was going to drown right then and there if the Lord didn’t help him. Don’t you hate those immediate danger situations? They are scary. You might be in the middle of one right now.
It’s like those big old waves are staring at you in the face and starting to cover you until you feel you can’t breathe anymore.
There are always going to be things that are going to scare us and make us afraid, even as Christians. Fear is an emotion we have built in us as humans but we shouldn’t let fear overtake us.
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56:3
A Bad Cup Of Coffee
““…Be ye holy; for I am holy” 1 Peter 1:16
I think everyone disagrees on what makes a good cup of coffee. With today’s hot coffee trend, we try all kinds of flavorings and different ways of experiencing coffee. It used to be basically served black or with cream and sugar. There wasn’t much variety.
Nowadays, people like coffee served and brewed a lot of different ways. We tend to disagree on what’s good. What we usually agree on is the basics on what makes a bad cup of coffee. It can be weak, bitter, stale, cold, or soured by something we put in it and we’d probably all agree that it tastes bad. Face it. No one likes to drink a bad cup of coffee.
I don’t suppose people like those bad tasting Christians they come across either. I wonder what type of coffee we’d be.
When we are weak Christians, we don’t have much faith. Sometimes when we are weak we don’t know God’s Word enough to know what we stand on. The way to remedy our weakness is to add some grounds. Dig into God’s Word and get grounded on the principles found in the bible. Study the attributes of God. Learn what you believe concerning doctrine and bone up on the basics of living the Christian life. Enrich yourself with a vibrant prayer life and rely on God’s strength and not your own.
I’ve known my share of bitter Christians and I’ve been there at a few points in my own life but if bitterness isn’t dealt with, it starts growing and eating up your life. Bitterness doesn’t leave a pleasant aroma. You can’t do much with a bitter cup of coffee. No matter how much cream or sugar, or even how much whip cream you want to plop on top, the bitter taste is still there. You have to dump it out and refill the cup with a new fresh brewed pot of coffee.Isn’t that just so like in the Christian life? No matter how much we add to our Christian lives, no matter how many good deeds we do, how many church programs we become involved with, if our bitterness is still there, we are still bitter and it hinders us in our Christian walk. What we need to do is empty all our bitterness and ourselves of self and then allow the filling of the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives.
The dictionary describes, stale as “tasteless or unpalatable from age”. Do you ever get complacent about your Christianity? Just have lost that first love? It’s easy to do, especially for those of us who’ve known the Lord for a very long time. We kind of get weary in well doing.I know we don’t want to just sit as Christians and not do anything but we do. “Unpalatable” doesn’t go far enough to describe us sometimes. I guess we need to freshen up. There’s a worship chorus that says, “Holy Spirit fall fresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.” I think that’s what we all need so that we will get busy for the Lord. We don’t want to be Christians that just sit and get stale and tasteless.
You may have brought a cup of coffee to your lips that you hadn’t realized had gotten cold. You think it’s going to be warm and good and then you realize that it’s cold. We get that way in our desire to serve Christ. We grow cold as a Christian. There are probably a lot of reasons. We get away from Christ, slow down in our bible reading and prayer life, stop going to church and pretty soon we are cold.What do you do to a cold cup of coffee? Most of us just add a little bit of hot stuff from the coffee pot. We go to the source of the heat. That’s how we should do as Christians. Go to the Source. Get on our knees and talk to the Lord. Draw closer to Him and then we’ll get warmed up in our Christian walk.
Have you ever tried something new in your coffee? With all those new flavorings and things out there, I’m sure some have. Ever tried something in your coffee that just left a sour taste in your mouth and that didn’t agree with you? Or maybe you’ve put some cream that had gone bad into your coffee. That’s a sure fire way to ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee.It’s the same thing when we allow worldly and ungodly things into our lives as Christians. It doesn’t agree with us because we are in the world but not of it. As Christians, those things sour us and basically make us rotten. We become ineffective in our Christian lives when we allow the things of the world to come spilling in.
I hope I don’t prove to be a bad cup of coffee. This past Sunday our pastor spoke about being in the presence of the Lord. He used the verse, “…Be ye holy; for I am holy“, 1 Peter 1:16 and was talking about how spending time with the Lord brings that sweet aroma. I think that’s what this is all about. In order to avoid being weak, bitter, stale, cold, and sour as Christians, we have to learn to be in the presence of God more.
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits,
even the God of our salvation. Selah.” Psalm 68:19
It’s the start of a New Year so we all begin thinking towards those resolutions. Actually I am not a big fan of them. I think that we generally don’t follow them anyway. When we really resolve to do something to change our lives, it is usually at a time in our life when we are to the point that we see the need for change. Of course if a resolution works for you, then great!
A resolution usually means that we want to resolve to improve or better ourselves and that’s always good, especially in the spiritual areas of our lives. I’m always for anything to improve our lives and relationships with our Lord. When it boils down to it, bettering ourselves as Christians involves bettering our relationships with God. We have to draw closer to Him before we can improve our Christian lives. Sure we can make a New Year’s resolution to do that but I think just resolving, day by day, gets the job done in a better way.
Do you remember the old hymn? “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” I can remember that playing off a record when I was little. Okay, some of you don’t know what those are? Round things us ancient people used to play on machines that went round and round called record players. An old form of a cd:) We had a record in our family, I think by Tennessee Ernie Ford with that old song on it and I can remember learning the words when I was quite young.
I am weak but Thou art strong, Jesus keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long, As I walk let me walk close to Thee!
Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be dear Lord, Let it be.