Tag Archives: Bible

The Reason We Speak

“Paul, an apostle fo Christ Jesus by the will of God,…” -Eph 1:1a

For those who read and do not know I am as student pastor in Pensacola, Fl.  I will be continuously writing on this blog and using it as a staging ground for my sermons on Wednesday Nights and Sunday Mornings.  As the summer is beginning I and my leadership team are embarking on a journey through the book of Ephesians, and attempting to teach its precepts to our student body of between 25 and 45 students.

This blog is the first in a series and was taught to my students last night as a intro and an encouragement in how Paul opens every one of his letters….The Reason We Speak.

When you write or speak to a group of people it is important to establish three basic things.  The greek  writers and speakers gave these basic points as follows:

Ethos – The establishment of who you are and why we should listen to you.

Logos – The logical argument that you are wanting to make.

Pathos – The state of mind in which you want your listener.

Paul would have grown up knowing these three traits.  Because of this each letter he wrote begins in almost identical fashion. Without over spiritualizing we should look into how he opens up his letters so that we can know the reason he is writing.

1.  Why Paul Wrote

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,…”

Every letter Paul wrote started with this simple phrase.  Yet in this simple phrase is a vast depth of meaning when it is spoken with intent.  Paul calls himself an apostle…in some translations a servant of Christ Jesus.  He starts out immediately putting himself not as a figure head, but as a lower class a “bondslave” of the one who sent him.

Paul goes on to say not only is he not the master, but also that he is speaking only by the will of God.  He says this not to prop himself up, but to make clear that he is nothing but a slave with a message from his master.  He is here only to do the will of the one who sent him.

When we live our Christian lives we should likewise understand that we are “bondslaves” to our God.  Anything we do and anything we speak should be only according to the will of our master.  When we speak it is with the authority and reputation of God…let us not tarnish that reputation.

2.  To Whom Paul Writes

“To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus…” -Eph 1:1b

The first part is clear. Paul is writing to the people of Ephesus that are relying on Jesus and are faithful to his word.  It is this second part that I want to focus on because it allows this message to be reaching out to all of us who are “faithful in Christ Jesus”.  This message in the book of Ephesians is a letter written not just to a time and place but actually meant to reach out past time and hit the hearts of the faithful here and now.  The Word of God in the New Testament is written to encourage and equip the saints to do battle on behalf of God.  

3.  The State Paul Wants Readers

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” – Eph 1:2

The Bible states that God has heaped on us every blessing we could want or need.  Anything that we desire the Bible says God has already provided for us and it is ours to claim.  All we have to do is ask!

Paul is doing this with each and every letter he begins.  He is calling out and asking for the blessing of peace and grace that has already been given and now sits waiting on our request.  Paul wants each of the people reading this letter, us included, to have the peace of God so that we may accept what he is saying.

How often do we as Christians call out for our blessings?  How often do we toil in frustration all because we are too proud to ask for help?

There is an old preachers story about a boy in a sandbox trying to build a city.  He spends hours on getting it just right but as he gets to the middle there is a large rock he has to move.  He pushes and he pulls, but the rock won’t budge.  Defeated he sits down and begins to cry.  At this point the boy’s father comes out and asks him what is wrong.  As the boy explains the problem he cry out to the father that there is nothing that can be done because he has already tried everything.  With a smile and a sympathetic tone the father simply says “You haven’t asked me”.

This is what Paul does when he calls down this blessing.  He knows that on our own power we will never understand what God is saying in this letter.  So he cry out to an understanding and giving father to ask for grace and peace as we hear His word.

Paul speaks with the authority of God, to all who are faithful, with the blessings of God raining down.

When we speak and teach we should do likewise.

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Posted by on May 31, 2018 in ephesians, Uncategorized


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Pity, Pouting, and Unreasonable Anger

“And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” – Jonah 4:4

A nation has just been saved! Not only saved from destruction, but also saved from there wicked ways.  From all the evidence we have, at least a generation of the people of Nineveh will be worshiping our Lord in Heaven with us one day.  This should be a moment of celebration and triumph!  A moment to praise the LORD who saves and to thank the one who brought the message.

So where is the prophet who brought a message that saved more than 120,000 people from destruction?

“Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city….till he should see what would become of the city” Jonah 4:5

The Bible recorded that he was angry at God for saving the people of Nineveh.  He lashed out at God; telling Him that this is why he didn’t want to come.  Why he tried to run away. It wasn’t fear. It wasn’t inadequacy. It was hate!

Jonah did not want the people of Nineveh saved.  He did not want them to turn from their evil ways.  Jonah wanted the people of Nineveh to burn!  However, Jonah knew that Jehovah God was merciful, and he knew that if the people of Nineveh repented that God would save them.

1. The Pity

Jonah throws himself a little pity party up on the hill side.  He decides he wants to wallow in his sadness that his enemy, the people he hates, are going to get off free and clear.  Part of him, the Bible makes clear, is hoping that their repentance is false and they will just go back to being evil.  He wants to see what will happen in the next days.

Before we go getting too down on Jonah for self pity, we have to look at our own lives and see that we can be guilty of the exact same things.  How often do we look at others circumstances…people we consider as “worse” than ourselves, and when we see them getting a blessing complain to God about the unjustness.

I would venture to say that everyone falls into this trap of self pity.  The woah-is-me attitude that lets us ignore all the good things we have, and all of the evil that we have done.  To combat this attitude we need a realistic view of our own sin.  We need to be able to look in the mirror and realize that “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” (Rom 3:23)

2.  The Pouting

Jonah has put himself in a sad place.  Like any spoiled or unhappy child he goes to his corner sets up his toys and sits down for a good pout.  He of course stays within site of the city, in case he gets his way because of his pout, and he continues talking to  God so that God knows he is still pouting.

The parallels between Jonah and a child having a good pout are endless, and as any parent can tell you a pout does not end until the child realizes they will not get their way or the parent caves. 

God plays the role of a good father once again.  He approaches Jonah on the hillside, and calmly and softly tries to sooth his attitude while also trying to get Jonah to understand where he is wrong.  This is why God creates the plant.  He uses His creative powers to bring comfort to a petulant child, and uses the taking away of the plant to swing Jonah’s opinion.

Once again we can fall into this same trap that all of us would mock Jonah for tripping.  Thinking only about ourselves and our own well being.  We cry out to God about the unjustness of any given situation only to be met with a God who comes as a still small voice to comfort us and show us where we are wrong. This God who both understands our anger and sees the bigger picture. 

3.  The Unreasonable Anger

Back now to the question God asks Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry?”.

This is the big question.  We need to see some of this from Jonah’s perspective.  These people are killers.  They hated the Jews. Persecuted the Jews. Enslaved the Jews.  From a purely worldly view Jonah has every right to hate them back…every right to retaliate by not wanting them saved.  Even from a moral worldly standpoint these people do not deserve rescue.

It is in the final analogy that God answers this question.  He creates a plant and then lets it die.  Jonah once again cries foul.  How could this loving God just create something to let it die so soon? And God asks again,  “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?”

Yes! is the screamed reply of Jonah.

It is here that God bring it full circle and allows Jonah a look at the eternal perspective of God.  If Jonah was upset about the destruction of something he did not create and did nothing to help…why would God not want to give help and aid to a people that He, Jehovah God, did create.

And that is the right perspective.  We write people off all the time and it is easy for us because we did not create them or help nurture and care for them.  We also get angry when things we did not create do not work properly or are destroyed.  Instead our perspective should be that of God’s the creator of all things.  We should see everyone as valuable because they are cared for by God!  He created them! He cares for them! He does right to be angry for them when we do not help prevent there destruction!

“Should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left…?” – Jonah 4:11

We never get to hear Jonah’s response.  I believe it is because the question is posed to all of us.  Do we want to control who get his mercy or are we willing to let the Bible be true when it says, “‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Rom 9:15-16)



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Destruction is Coming…Repent!

…”Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” – Jonah 3:4b

Smelly, dirty, and covered with all manner of unspeakable garbage that can back up inside a fishes digestive tract Jonah is called by God.  If you know this story than you realize this is not the beginning, but the middle of a long story of a man running from his calling.  This, however, is the point at which reluctantly Jonah takes up the call of God to go to the city of his enemy and warn them of Nineveh’s coming destruction.

Jonah does not want to go to Nineveh! He does not want to teach them about Jehovah God.  Jonah, even after being transported and saved by a fish, is only doing this because he made a covenant with God to save his own skin.  Still he goes…and as he goes he relays this simple message, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”.

Not a very convincing message to say the least, however put yourself in the shoes of the people of Nineveh.  Here is a prophet from a nation with whom you are at war.  Walking into your city probably with burns and white patches from where the intestinal juices have burned his skin.  Possibly the word has even reached you that this man was just spat out of a huge fish right onto the shore near your city.  Suddenly, his message of destruction sounds more true.

So how did Jonah convince them?

1.  Recounting Jonah’s Story

We can make an educated guess that these eight words were not the only ones that were spoken by Jonah.  Most likely he recounted his entire story.  Starting with how God had used him in the past to prophesy.  He might then move to the story of him running away and being swallowed by a fish.  Pointing to his blemishes and mentioning his smell Jonah might tell the people how Jehovah God sent him against his will to warn them of there impending destruction.

This is true of us as well.  Each and every one of us is called to a unique place and a unique time.  Maybe we are called to a people we love and we will have to fight apathy.  Perhaps instead we are called to a people we hate and we have to fight prejudice.  No matter what, we are called to tell others the story of how Jehovah God saved us and send us to share the good news of Gods son with the world.

2.  Exposing There Idolatry

Jonah not only would have told the people of Nineveh about his story, but also he would have told the people about the peril of there sin.  For Nineveh to repent they would need to know from what they were repenting.  It is clear from the end of the story that the people of Nineveh are broken over there idolatry and sin.  For this to be true Jonah would have needed to tell them of the one true God.

We likewise are called to not only present our story of salvation, and how God saved us; but also we are called to show others that they are sinners.  The purpose of the law was to show us how sinful we are so that we might throw ourselves on the mercy and grace of our great God.  We as Christians are called to with love use the Bible to point to idolatry in the lives of sinners, and show them that they cannot make it on there own. They must repent and be saved by the grace of God.

3.  Relying on God to Move

Ultimately, Jonah had no power to save, and no power to stop the destruction that was to come.  This is the part with which he had so much trouble.  Left up to his own devices Jonah would have let Nineveh burn.  However, God is the source of all power and it is by his might and his hand weather city fall or are saved.

We are called then to not rely on our own power, but instead to put our trust in the power of Christ.  Nothing we say can save.  Nothing we do can change a heart.  It is only by the moving of the spirit that sinners are led to repentance.  This should be a huge pressure off our shoulders.  Our only calling is to obey when God says go.

The people of Nineveh heed the warning of Jonah.  They fall in sackcloth and ashes.  The king himself declares that everyone in the kingdom should fast and repent.  Because of this the destruction God foretold was averted.  Nineveh was saved, and we will see those people in paradise with us some day all because a man called Jonah, who didn’t even want to be there, obeyed the word of God and spoke his warning to the nation.

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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in Theology of Faith


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Absolute Truth and the Armor of God

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth… Mph 6:14a

Why do we need the Armor of God?

Its an interesting question because it is one of those times that the “churchy” answer seems like the correct answer. We need the Armor of God because the Bible tells us that it is important.  We need the Armor of God because we are in a fight for our souls. How many of us, however, actually on a daily basis fight for our Christianity?

Most of us I would venture to say could live our current lives without the Armor of God because we don’t ever find ourselves in a war with this world.  If the world or the spiritual powers that Christ calls us to stand firm against attack we are all to happy to just move on down the line thinking “I’ll fight the next one.” After all the world might be correct on this issue.

That is the bottom line.  Most christians today, whether they would admit it or not, do not believe in the absolute truth of the Bible.  If the bible is in contradiction with what the world tells us we are quick to align ourselves with the world.  We don’t investigate, we don’t struggle, and we don’t pray over these issues because there truth may be just as valid as ours.

The absolute truth of the Gospel is the only reason we have to fight.  Take away that truth and we may as well hang up all the other pieces of the armor because no one fights for something they know is not true.  Without the Absolute Truth of the gospel every part of our armor is weekend to the point of being harmful to us.

The Belt of Truth

Truth in life as with the Armor of God is the single thing on which we hold up ever part of our lives.  If you have ever had a belt that you thought would hold give out on you then you know the danger you can be in if a truth that you held give way.  No mater if it is serious or silly when something you know to be true is proven false it can reck your beliefs.

This is why Paul set up the truth of the gospel as the belt for our spiritual Armor.  If for any reason the bible is not true than ever thing that we hang on that belief becomes useless in the fight.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Righteousness is the defense of the major part of our body.  The largest thing that can be attacked is our actions and attitudes.  This is why it is good that we are not clothed in our righteousness but in the righteousness of God.  However, if the truth of the gospel is not absolute  than we are counting on our own righteousness to save us and that would be worse than useless in the spiritual battles we fight.

The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

We can have peace in God because we are comforted by his grace.  The protection we have in Him gives us “a peace of God that surpasses all understanding”.  We walk in that peace daily and take comfort in the fact that we can live worry free because God is in control.  If truth is not absolute, however, than we will live in worry over our salvation and our lives needing to control everything or risk loosing it all.

The Shield of Faith

We use our faith in the gospel as a shield to fight off the “flaming darts of the evil one” that when we are attacked by worry, guilt, or shame we can defend ourselves with the knowledge and faith in the Armor of God.  If truth is not absolute, we are not defended by a shield, but instead hobbled by a crutch that slows us from taking actual control of our lives or as Paul puts it.

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1Cor 15:19

The Helmet of Salvation

It is the knowledge of salvation that protects and transforms our mind.  We are ultimately not afraid of the things of this world because we know that we have be saved for a future place.  If truth of the gospel is not absolute then we have only a wisp of protection and are in danger of grievous harm because of the snares of this world.

Why do we put on the Armor of God?

Because the Truth of the Gospel is our reason to fight, our reason to go to war, and in war we must be protected from the evil one.


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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Through the Bible, Uncategorized


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Enslaved -Mastered by Sin

Enslaved -Mastered by Sin


Slavery is perhaps the most common problem on the planet.  There has been to my knowledge no time in human history in which at least one person has not been enslaved.  (Except perhaps before the fall)  This makes slavery the longest running problem we have yet to solve.

To truly do a discussion of slavery justice we need to define our terms.  There are actually in just about every culture two types of slavery.  Its important to distinguish between these two things because many of us may be fine with and even have experienced one form of slavery.  While the other form has much worse implications.

Indentured Servitude

Indentured servitude is the most accepted form of slavery, and many of us have experienced it at some point in our lives.  The basic idea is that you are a slave in order to pay off a debt.  This has looked different in different cultures but the most relatable version would have to be what happens to middle class children!

No! you did not read that wrong.  Middle class children and teens are the largest segment of our american population that deal with this form of slavery.  You in fact probably experienced a form of it when you were young.

Take yourself back to the young headstrong child you once were and think about that time we all had when we (or more likely our sibling who pinned it on us) got into trouble.  Specifically remember when you broke something or destroyed property.  If you had a family like mine you were marched over to whoever owned said destroyed property and told that you had to pay them back for there “stupid whatever” that you broke that shouldn’t have even been there in the first place.

Now as a child or teen, again if you were like me, you didn’t have a whole lot of money.  What this led to then was the next four weekends of your life mowing grass, doing dishes, and washing clothes all for no pay until finally you have worked off your debt to old lady “what’s her name”.  That in a nutshell is indentured servitude.

Oppressive Servitude

Oppressive servitude is the type of slavery however that most often keeps us up at night.  It is an inhuman act of betrayal and violence that has been practiced for almost all of time.  It is the taking of another person or people from there life, at no fault of there own and forcing them to work in terrible conditions, until they are no longer of use.

This type of slavery has taken many forms from sexual slavery of young girls, to the enslavement of africans as cheep labor.  Each of these is despicable and causes a deep yearning in my soul to seek out and to save those who find themselves captured.

It is in this mindset of yearning that we should consider our spiritual lives and the role Christ plays in this world.

See the Bible makes clear that we enter into this world enslaved to sin. (John 8:33)  Make no mistake if you are reading this you were enslaved to sin. (Rom 6:5-7)  This means that by the very nature of slavery we are oppressed by sin and we do many things at the call of our “dark master” of which we should be ashamed.

Its at this understandable point that we start to compare ourselves to the above descriptions, and because we all think of ourselves as generally good and decent people who have never murdered, cheated, or stolen we put ourselves into the category of the oppressed servitude. In delusion we consider ourselves simply victims of chance.

How could sin have done this to us?  Dragged us out of our comfort and contentment and enslaved us!

However, look again at the descriptions that were given, and search your heart for the truth.  None of us were dragged kicking and screaming into slavery.  Sure we were born bad, but we were created for righteousness.  It is in an examination of the evidence that we are forced to admit, we are not oppressed but simply indebted to our “dark master”.

See we all committed acts that have run up our account.  We owe more than we could ever pay and because of that debt we were turned over from birth to our “dark master”.  We are then starting in a world trying to work off a debt that can never be payed only increased.

It is in this reality that we see the true beauty of God.  Who did not rescue us from random chance. Who did not rescue us from an enemy force.  We see the beauty of a God who rescued us from a debt of our own creation.  Who rescued us from our own pride and self worth and asks nothing of us in return except to trust in Him.

Make no mistake you are enslaved….but you do not have to be.




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Posted by on September 28, 2016 in Uncategorized, Unchained


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Time and Place

“For everything there is a  season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” Ecc 3:1

It is amazing that God ordained all things to happen inside his timing and will.  He set up the rules and order of this world and set all things in there place.  God has, as Ecclesiastes 3 says, given everything a season and a time.

What does this mean for our lives though?

Has God so controlled our lives and actions that we have no freedom?

No!  Rather God has placed markers and “signs” and given us his word that we might understand that every action, desire, and outcome has a place.  No thing that happens to us is ever out of Gods control, and we need not fear finding ourselves in a situation that He has not planned.

Solomon uses quite a few “this/that” statements to show the control and placement of things in this world.  These few verses are easy to both over and under spiritualize, however they are powerful statements of Gods control and plan for our world and lives.

Born and Die (V.2)

Solomon starts out slow and easy by just letting us know that God has ordained a time for our birth and our death.  No accidents occur in Gods world.  No one has been born or ever will be born that God did not know about first.  Just as know one has been born a surprise to God no one has died as a surprise to God.  We enter and exit this world as a planned creation of God, and he watches out for us throughout it all. (Matt 10:29)

Break Down and Build Up (V.3)

Christ is referred to as the potter (Isa 64:8) and we the clay.  If you ever watch a potter throw a clay pot it is fascinating to watch.  Sometimes after working on a pot and building it up for hours a flaw might be found in the construction.  If there is a fault found a potter doesn’t try to fix that hole or just put clay over it, instead he breaks down the work he has done back into a pile so that he can start fresh.

As the clay, solomon points to the fact that there are God ordained times of building where we might rise as leaders and teachers, however because of our own flawed nature when we get out of sync with God or prideful there is also a God ordained time of breaking down.

Silence and Speech (V.7)

It is ordained through the discernment of the Holy Spirit, and through the reading of the Bible the knowledge of when to speak.  There are times that we are called as Christians to speak up and say what God has taught us. (David and Goliath being a good Old Testament Example) However, there are also times that God has given us the wisdom to stay silent.

Most of us, unfortunately, have a case of the opposites.  When someone is running down our God or God is calling us to share we stay silent.  When someone is asking us about gossip or we have opinions we speak.  God has called us to seek out the times when he has called us to speech and silence.  Pray only that He gives us the wisdom to know the difference.

War and Peace (V.8)

Similare to speech and silence it can be hard to discern which of these God has ordained in a specific situation.  As humans we tend to go to war over little things and keep the peace when barbarians are at the gate.

Understand,  God has given us the call to war as a tool to be used.  There is nothing wrong with standing your ground and holding a position you believe.  We are called however to make sure to only use that tool when it is appropriate.

Romans says it best like this “in as much as it is up to you, live at peace with all men” (Rm 12:18)  This is a call to use discernment.  A call to say that if its not a must issue than choose peace.  However, if it is against the Bible or Gods authority ….prepare for war.

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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized


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Bursting the Bubble of Wealth

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that i must leave it to the man who will come after me.”  -Ecc 2:18

Wealth is an amazing thing.  I was blessed to grow up in a home that while not “wealthy” certainly provided me with a life of ease.  I didn’t have to work to put food on the table, my parents didn’t take my birthday money for gas money, and I always had presents under the tree at Christmas.  I lived a blessed life.

However, there are those who had much more money than I.  Families and people who could have bought and sold all that I had twenty times over and never made a dent in there money.  This also is a blessing.  How then can Solomon find any fault or struggle in the gaining of money and wealth?

Solomon, who was one of the richest men who ever lived, says that even the accumulation of wealth is ultimately vanity and striving after the wind.  He uses these three points to show how living a life that is about money and wealth is a life empty of any reason to live.

  1.  Ultimately we don’t get to Keep It

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that i must leave it to the man who will come after me.” -Ecc 2:18

Solomon begins by simply recognizing the inevitability of his own demise.  Solomon knows he will die.  Sooner or later his life is going to come to an end and everything he has ever owned will pass on to his relations.  He will no longer own any of his stuff and he will have no say over how it is spent. Solomon will have worked his whole life only to give his money to those who didn’t earn it.

Ultimately that is what will happen to all of our wealth.  We can only enjoy it while we are here on this earth.  We can use it for good or evil.  We can use it all or nothing.  The only thing we can’t do is take it with us. 

2.    Ultimately we cannot Protect It

“and who knows  whether he will be wise or a fool?  Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun.” -Ecc 2:19

Solomon not only recognizes that one day he will die, but also that when he goes his idiot kids are gonna get everything.  Solomon realized there is no way to be sure that his kids spend his money well.

There is a difference that has been pointed out between being wealthy and being rich.  I can never remember which is which, but the basics are “a wealthy person made there money,  a rich person inherits it”.  Our world is filled with examples of people who ran into this problem. A hard working father/mother builds up a fortune only to see there children with no morals or work ethic tear that fortune down.

Solomon points out to us in these verses the futility of living for money.  Even if you were to get all you could hope, and are ok with passing it on when you die.  You do not get to decide what is done with it once you are gone.  Whoever gets your stuff gets to decide how to use your money.

3.    Ultimately we cannot Enjoy It.

” What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?  For all his days are full of sorrow…”  Ecc 2:22-23a

Solomon continues as he points out one simple truth that we all understand even if we don’t say.  The more wealth you have, the more worry of loosing wealth.  Solomon acknowledges that all his work and toil to attain such wealth has caused his heart nothing but “sorrow and vexation”.  When you work for wealth you heart is never satisfied.

The sad truth of wealth is that no person if they set wealth and riches as there goal ever said “now I have enough“.  They continue to work and worry and snuggle to get more and more always believing that the next hundred or next thousand will satisfy. Solomon is trying to show us early in life that the only thing that satisfies our desires is Christ/God.

“For apart from Him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?  For to the one who pleases Him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. ” Ecc 2:25-26

In the last few posts we have talked about Solomon’s frustrations with life.  We have “burst the bubble” of many vanity that plague the human race.  However the ultimate point is summed up in these last two verse.  All pleasure and joy and good things are given to those who strive after Him.  To those who are not believer he has given the ultimately futile task of gathering and collecting.  I pray that anyone reading this finds there satisfaction in God, and not look for it in the business of collecting.

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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Ecclesiastes, Uncategorized


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