What Should We do this Summer? (Ecclesiastes 1-6)

June 18, 2021

I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life, Ecclesiastes 2:3

It happens every year. Our family always sees everyone around us taking vacations and it prompts us to ask ourselves, what we should be doing for the summer. If you live in another country you may not grasp how stressful of a decision this can be.

Life in the United States is filled with options of things to do. In some ways Solomon evidences our struggle as he places before his readers his quest to find purpose in life. Solomon was, blessed by God, with wisdom greater than any man who ever lived before him or after him. His wisdom made him the perfect person to explore all that life had to offer. As you read the book of Ecclesiastes you get a sampling of his exploration. Here are a few things Solomon did:

  • He built houses and he built lakes and forests.
  • He gave himself to all kinds of self-indulgences.
  • He gave himself to studying the wisest sayings of his day.
  • He focused on wealth and the value of gathering wealth.

In the midst of these pursuits he wrote, “I concluded that all my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” 2:11

Some people believe Solomon was depressed or he became a person of negative views. This was not true at all. Solomon came to the following realities:

25 for apart from him[d] who can eat or who can have enjoyment (2:25)

 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (3:11)

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. (3:14)

Brothers and sisters did you see the realities? If you did, you know what to do for the summer. Here they are in action items:

  1. The best summer is when you walk with God (4:12).
  2. The best summer is when you do it with a team of people (4:9-11).
  3. The best summer is when you enjoy in a Godly way what He places before you (3:24).
  4. The best summer is when you engage in eternal things (3:14).
  5. The best summer is when you leave it all on the table for God’s glory (5:15).

Oh my friends, these are the actions our family have decided to engage in this summer. It is going to be a great summer.

2 questions:

  1. What are your plans for the summer?
  2. Do you need to change plans now that you have read God’s Word?

The Beauty of Friendship (Proverbs 27-29)

June 17, 2021

Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
    and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel, Prov. 27:9

One of the worst mistakes a Christian can make is in trying to walk through this life alone. The Devil does His best to get you to live on an island of isolation. When we are isolated the enemy comes with lies and deceit. Suddenly we begin to listen and we begin to give in and often we give up.

God has given into every Christian a set of friends. Now we know the Devil will plant false friends and we must beware of them. However, God places true friends in our lives to walk with us in this journey. One must ask, what do these friends do?

  1. They see and confront our blind spots. “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” Prov. 28:26.
  2. They remind us of who God is and who we are. “Ones pride brings him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor,” Prov. 29:23.
  3. They partner with us to win the battles of life. “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future,” Prov. 19:20. “Plans are established by counsel. By wise guidance wage war.”
  4. They keep us from giving up or giving in. “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity,” Prov. 17:17.

The above is only a sample of the value of true friendship. Maybe you have forgotten these truths? Maybe you need to once again reach out to those you have for some reason not been able to get back together with.

There is one more thing I must write about today. Out of all the friends God places in your life there is one that stands above the rest. This friends name is Jesus. He is the friend who is always there, Heb. 13:5. He is the friend who runs into your trouble when all others run away from the trouble. He is the friend that stands at the door of your heart and knocks when you attempt to push Him away, Rev. 3:20.

The hymn writer put it this way: There is no one like the lowly Jesus, no not one.

2 questions:

  1. Who is your best friend and what are they speaking into your life today?
  2. Who are you being a friend today?

Pride verses Humility (Proverbs 25-26)

June 16, 2021

6 Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
    or stand in the place of the great,
for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
    than to be put lower in the presence of a noble. Proverbs 25:6
-7

A famous Puritan was quoted as saying, “Our father was Adam, our grandfather was dust, and our great grandfather was nothing.”

I don’t know about you, but the above quote reminds me of what Solomon is teaching. People are born with a sinful nature that is corrupt in both heart and mind, Jesus taught this at the end of Matthew 15. As we grow into adult-hood the pride within us continues to grow.

For those of us, in whom God has gracious saved, He brings us to a position of humility. But even then pride lingers in our old nature. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of false humility. One of the ways we know if this is happening is when we consider how we feel about ourselves.

In Proverbs 25, Solomon warns us of what happens when pride rises up. In such times we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we should. This is what was happening with the Jewish leaders (called Pharisees) in Jesus day. We read of Jesus teaching about pride verses humility in Luke 14:7-11:

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

These leaders struggled with the following:

  • They believed the best belonged to them.
  • They believed no one was more worthy than they were.
  • They fell because pride became their tomb.

Consider how many things get destroyed because of pride. A wife leaves her husband after years of living as a slave serving his every prideful need. A wonderful employee leaves because he or she never was rewarded even for the greatest of work. Finally a church falls apart because the pastor could only give honor to himself.

Oh my friend, Gods desire is that through humility you and I would put Him first.

Oh my friend, God’s desire is that through humility you and I would put others before ourselves.

Oh my friend, when we carry out God’s desires, He will lift us up to exalt Him more!!!

Two questions:

  1. Are you experiencing faith humbling or forced humbling?
  2. In what ways are you really humbling yourself?

Making Every Move Count (I Kings 9; II Chronicles 8)

June 15, 2021

And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ I Kings 9:4-5

During my college years I enjoyed my summers working with my dad at his company. His company offered summer employment to the children of its employees. Day after day I had the joy of watching and learning the work ethic of my dad. I also enjoyed his many antidotes. One of his favorite was, “make every move count, because every move counts.”

Honestly, I did not grasp the depths of this truth until I became a pastor. All these years later that truth still rings in my heart and in my mind. Some people might refer to this truth as the “Domino effect.” It is so true that every decision has affect on others.

In I Kings 9 we read of the second encounter King Solomon had with God. God instructs Solomon to live with integrity of heart and uprightness. How would Solomon be able to do this? This could only happen if Solomon continually obeyed the directions of the Lord. If Solomon would continue in this, the effect would be for the good of his entire nation.

However, God also gave Solomon a warning. If he failed to live with integrity of heart and uprightness. If he failed to obey the directions of the Lord it would have lasting negative impact on his entire nation.

Oh, how I wish I could report that Solomon was obedient to the end of his reign, but I would be lying. I think each of us can identify with the hymn writer who wrote these timeless words, “Lord I am prone to wonder, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”

Brothers and sisters, how can we make every move count? Here are three tasks we can do:

  1. Love God with all our being (Matthew 22:38-38).
  2. Seek God’s will every day (Eph. 5:17-18).
  3. Carry out God’s will every day (Matt. 12: 25 “A house divided cannot stand.”)

Day after day I would hear my dad say, “make every move count because every move counts.”

2 questions:

  1. What will you do today that counts?
  2. How do you want to be remembered by others?

Celebrating our Liberator (Psalm 134;146-150)

June 14, 2021

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous. Psalm 146:7b-8

I must tell you, I love the Lord Jesus Christ. I love Him every time I hear of someone’s story of brokenness. Each time I am reminded of how He liberated me from my broken state. I love Him every time I hear of someone doing an unwise thing. Each time I am reminded how He liberated me from a life of unwise living. I love Him every time a parent ask’s me to pray for a wayward child. Each time I am reminded of how He liberated me from wayward living.

Brothers and sisters, when we consider all the hurt around us-we must celebrate our liberator. As part of our celebration, let us invite other people to come to celebrate with us. This is what was happening in Psalm 146. The worshipers were challenged to celebrate who God is. He is both our help and our hope (146:5).

Brothers and sisters, when we consider the hurt that comes to us-we must celebrate even when we don’t see Him working because we know He is working. We celebrate the miracles that will come from our Liberator:

“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure,” Psalm 147:5

When I consider the ministry of Jesus, I read about celebration after celebration. We see it in Matthew 12:15 when Jesus healed all the sick in the crowd that followed Him. He was the one they celebrated because according to Matthew 12:27 “in His name the Gentiles have hope.”

Brothers and sisters, let the celebration begin because:

  • He is our hope.
  • He is our healer.
  • He is the one who leads us.
  • He is the one who is coming for us.
  • He is the one who is preparing a place for us.

2 questions:

  1. In what areas of your life do you need liberation?
  2. Will you celebrate as you wait for liberation?

How Can One Person Do So Much? (I Kings 7; II Chronicles 4)

June 11, 2021

13 And King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze. And he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work. I Kings 7:13-14

I sometimes stand in awe of the skills that other people possess. I think about Tony Padgett who can take a piece of wood and create a masterpiece. When I take a piece of wood in my hand the wood begins to tremble, because I know not what I am about to do. Still others waste the gift’s they have because of a lack of understanding. God offers us skills and the wisdom and understanding to use them for His glory.

In I Kings 7 we are introduced to a man by the name of Hiram from Tyre. God had gifted him with skill in crafting work. He used his gifts in the work of the Lord. The things He did brought glory to God. Each time people would come to Solomon’s house or to the Temple, they would glorify God because of the work of this man.

Brothers and sisters, I must ask, how are you using your gifts to glorify God? Sadly, God has gifted many people with skills in which it does not benefit them and it does not glorify God. Here is what I have discovered:

Skills alone are not enough to be successful in life. The Bible recounts that Hiram was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill. Pay close attention:

  1. Hiram knew his gifts came from God-James 1:17.
  2. Hiram knew his gifts were to be used for God’s glory-I Cor. 10:31.
  3. Hiram knew he was to be disciplined in his work. “Blessed are the meek (Strength under control) for they shall inherit the earth,” Matt. 5:5.

Bottom line, if you want to engage in a life where your skills are used at their peak capacity, you need to have a wisdom and understanding that comes from God alone.

Here is wisdom of understanding:

“Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for me,” Col. 3:23.

Oh the joy of standing back at the end of a project and giving praise to God for what He has accomplished. Today I am calling you out to use your skills for God’s glory.

2 questions:

  1. What skills do you possess?
  2. Who are you dedicating your skills too?

The Reason We Come (II Kings 5-6; II Chronicles 2-3)

June 10, 2021

The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?  II Chronicles 2:5-6

From my earliest memories of life, church has always been the main thing in my family and then when it became personal in my own life, it was thee thing in my life. I think I can safely say that I have spent more time either in church or on mission from the church than I have in everything else put together. I openly say to you, I love the church.

When I get the honor of teaching pastors I define church as an assembly of baptized believers. The church is not the building in itself. The church is the people who assemble as surrendered believers meeting with God Himself. When we are assembled we are the church gathered and growing. When we exit the church we become the church going.

In the days of Solomon (470 years after Israel had been delivered from Egypt) the temple began to be built on the very site where Abraham was tested by God (Genesis 22). On the very sight David had purchased (I Chronicles 22) God had said, build the temple here.

What was so important about this Temple:

  1. It would be a great place-each time the people would come they would be reminded of the greatness of the One True God.
  2. It would be a Holy Place-simply because God would meet with the people there.
  3. It would be a place of redemption-in that place the people would offer sacrifices for their sins.
  4. It would be a place where worship and prayer would take place-I can hear the people singing the Psalms and offering prayers to God.

Brothers and sisters, do you love the church? Do you long each week to draw near to God in His church?

Today we see a time when many people no longer want to come to the House of Worship. We see people who believe, I don’t need church. I can worship at home. It is true that we can worship at home. I, by the grace of God, do it every day before I leave home. I know our bodies are the temple of the Lord (II Cor. 6:19-20). But I also know that there are things I cannot experience apart from worshipping with the body in His church (Heb. 10:25).

If awakening is to come in America, awakening will have to begin in the church.

Two questions:

  1. What do you love about the church?
  2. How often do you go to the house of the Lord?

How Strong Are You? (Proverbs 22-24)

June 9, 2021

If you faint in the day of adversity,
    your strength is small. Proverbs 24:10

Sometimes young people get in their minds that they need to prove their strength by feats of strength that prove to their friends how strong they are. Often times such moments leads to a great humbling. The writer of Proverbs speaks of pride going before a great fall. But there are other times when great feats of strength are proven.

Before us today Solomon places truth after truth in our lives. One of those truths concerns our strength. The strength Solomon is referring too is not physical strength but spiritual strength. We know Paul teaches that our greatest battles are in the spiritual realm (Eph. 6:10-13).

Here in 24:10 Solomon writes, your response to adversity is the truest indicator of where you are spiritually. Certainly Solomon is not making a statement of spiritual perfection. Later in the chapter (24:16) Solomon writes: “A righteous man may fall seven times in a day but he rises again. But the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”

Solomon is making a statement of spiritual connection. When a person is surrendered to Jesus he or she finds great strength. Consider 24:5 “A wise man is full of strength, and man of knowledge enhances his might.” Then we read 24: 6 “by wise guidance you can wage war.”

Two points of revelation from God’s Word:

  1. I have learned that I am the strongest when I am totally surrendered to God’s will. II Corinthians 10:3
  2. I have learned that I am the weakest when I fail to surrender to God’s will, Rom. 8:3-5.

In the New Testament we find a powerful illustration of this in the disciples lives (Matt. 14:22-33). A storm was about to take the lives of the disciples. Jesus came to His disciples walking on the water. People showed great faith in asking God to call him to walk on the water. Peter walked on the water. But then Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. Then he cried out to Jesus, “Lord save me,” Matt. 14:30

If you are failing in your moment of adversity, humble yourself and cry out, “Lord save me.” If you are finding success in your adversity, give greater praise than you ever have for God’s power in your life.

2 questions:

  1. What adversities are you facing today and what are they revealing to you?
  2. In what ways will you surrender your adversities to God today?

It Comes With a Guarantee (Proverbs 19-21)

June 8, 2021

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

When I was in college at the University of Kentucky a philosophy professor told our entire class, “there are no guarantees in this life.” As I heard his proclamation I knew this was not true. But I also knew that in that moment I was running from God’s call on my life. God had called me to serve Him but I was attempting to serve myself. I truly was between Heaven and Hell with Satan telling me lies.

The writer of Proverbs was filling his son with sayings that were all true. Each truth had a guarantee. Here are two examples from our readings today:

Cease to hear instruction, my son,
    and you will stray from the words of knowledge. Prov. 19:27
This is a guarantee!!!

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
    but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. Prov. 21:5
This is a guarantee!!!

I can still remember how God dealt with my heart during those times. I came to understand that He alone had a plan for my life that was guaranteed to be exactly what I was created for. The prophet Isaiah wrote about God’s guarantee in chapter 46:

8 “Remember this and stand firm,
    recall it to mind, you transgressors,
    remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

Write it down, take it to the bank, and go all-in with Him because:

  • He is the eternal God who is the creator of time.
  • He is the all-knowing God who planned every second of time right down to the last second of time.
  • He is the powerful God who will complete His plan and no one can stop Him.
  • He is a merciful God in that He included you and I in His plan.

Brothers and sisters I am so glad that He led me to decide to follow Him. I want to challenge you to never rely on your own wisdom. You will fall in the dust of failure. It is guaranteed. I want to challenge you to every day rely on His wisdom. You will rise about the pit-falls of life. It is guaranteed.

2 questions:

  1. What decisions are before you today?
  2. What are the guarantees with the choices before you?

I Don’t Know What to Do? (Proverbs 16-18)

June 7, 2021

Commit your work to the Lord,
    and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

Take a moment and reread the verse above. I am sure that I am not the only person who needs this verse today. I am sure that each of us have in the past said, I don’t know what to do. As I write this blog there are many circumstances on my mind and heart. I confess there was a day when so many things would have overwhelmed me. I confess I would have gone through the day in great sorrow.

But now, I do have great sorrow in my heart and great anguish of soul, however I do know what to do. God has taught me to commit every thought, every trial, every test, every tribulation, and every task into His hands. The Psalmist gives us a list of things to do instead of worrying. Feast on Psalm 37:3-7:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[b]
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

I find no less than six things we can do in all circumstances of life:

  1. Trust in God’s answers (Vs: 3). Sometimes He says wait, sometimes He says no, and every time He says, I got this!
  2. Keep doing what you know is right (Vs: 3B). Let God do His part.
  3. Focus on your walk with God (Vs: 4). Suddenly your prayer life will become powerful.
  4. Never act apart from the peace of God in your decisions (Vs: 5).
  5. Trust that He is working it all out (Vs: 6).
  6. Be patient, don’t get ahead of God and make things worse (Vs: 7).

Brothers and sisters, there should no longer be any circumstance where you cry out I don’t know what to do. Certainly you don’t know the outcome. But you know what to do. The Apostle Peter gives us a great promise if we do what God says to do. Check out I Peter 5:6-7:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 

This morning after this study I sang that great hymn of the faith: Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto meSummer and winter, and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and loveGreat is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto mePardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand besideGreat is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto meGreat is Thy faithfulness, O God my FatherSource: Musixmatch