So many books, so little time

Gazing out at the city lights reflecting over the waves, I considered how much there is to know. Each light in the city had a purpose, someone who used it. Overhead, a plane flew and I saw it’s lights blinking it’s path. Who was on it? Where were they going? Every person has an entire life story. Every city on the globe has a new culture to experience. Many of the countless books in the world symbolize a lifetime of study, learning, and toil.

I don’t know what brought on this contemplation, but I was suddenly overwhelmed. So much knowledge. So much to experience. I realized, I don’t have the time. How can I sift through all the information in the world to find what I need? What if I’m missing something? I can’t read all those books and visit all those places.

The Lord suddenly put me at peace. He reminded me that I had misplaced my priorities. Pleasing Him was all I need to do. It was so relaxing to realize that. All we need to do is please God. He will work out all the details. He will take care of all the information. We don’t need to stock up on knowledge. We don’t need to stress on making sure we are knowledgeable so we can handle every possible situation. We just need to please God.

As the Lord put my crazy thoughts to rest, He reminded me of the words of Solomon when he said, “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” But the Lord didn’t stop there, He reminded me of the very next verse as well. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Solomon had it right when he said that the whole duty of man was to fear and obey God. That is all . That is our duty. If you are a curious person with a thirst for knowledge like I am, I’m sure it is easy to get caught up in gathering information. If you are, I would just like to share this thought with you: Put knowledge in it’s place. Knowledge is not an end, but only the means to one. In the end, all knowledge is vanity compared to serving God.

Don’t ever allow your quest for knowledge to ever distract you from your purpose of serving God.

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Riches are not forever . . .

When God says something about the uncertainty of riches, He usually is reminding us of the eternality of spiritual things. This trend is repeated many times in His Word. But in Proverbs 27, God says something a little different.

In verse 23, God says, “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” The first word, “for” tips us off that this truth is a reason to do something. So, we have the reason for action- What’s the action? When we look to the previous verse- it says, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.”

Here in this verse, God does not seem to feel the need to remind us of spiritual things. He’s giving some simple advice on life. Since flocks and herds were the general measure of a man’s wealth in that day, we could say that God is saying: be diligent with your money. He repeats Himself by telling us to “look well” to our wealth. Those words “look well” literally mean: “put your heart into it.”

And why should we do this? Because money doesn’t last. And authority and ruler-ship does not always pass to the “rightful” person. God’s telling us that we have to be diligent with what we’re given or we could easily lose it.

But He’s not telling us to go out there and focus our life on money, either. We must use some discretion. God has said in other places, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” – Prov 23:5

“Riches make themselves wings” – truly.

So my friends, be diligent to protect what God has given you. Whether it be riches, authority, or anything else. Don’t work only to be rich. Don’t spend your life chasing after the wind. Remember: God gives you to ability to get wealth. (Deut 8:17-18) When we are diligent with our money, we are for His sake- not our own. When we are diligent, God can give us more, and we can be used greater for Him. He doesn’t need servants that chase after riches. And he doesn’t need diligent servants in order for Him to get money.

He wants us simply to be obedient. And that means here and now, with whatever we’ve been allotted.

Let’s be diligent stewards with what we’ve been given!

Sorrow is better than laughter

Ecclesiastes is an awesome book of the Bible. God gave Solomon (possibly the richest men ever) a large portion of wisdom. Not only this, Solomon wanted to learn wisdom. So, Solomon, a man who is blessed with almost unlimited resources, sets out to find wisdom. He chronicles his journey, and at the end of the book, he gives the revelation of all wisdom and duty.

While reading the book you can find countless nuggets of wisdom that lead you on a trail to find the ultimate sum of wisdom. In Ecclesiastes 7:3, we find one such nugget. It reads, “Sorrow is better than laughter.” Yes, sorrow is better than laughter. Now before you think that Solomon is an extremely depressed individual, let’s look at the rest of the verse. It finishes with, “For by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”

When I first read this I was a little confused, but as I read the surrounding verses the meaning became clear. Solomon is telling us that by sadness and reflection, we gain wisdom and understanding. I mean, how much character building goes on during a time of endless joking? Usually not much. Our character is built, many times, in those times of sadness. When we pause and reflect on what is truly meaningful in life.

In the previous verse, Solomon tells us that it is better to mourn than to feast, “for that [death] is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart.” How many times have you heard of someone having a turning point in their life when they realized how short life was? I know I have heard of such a transformation many times.

From the wisdom of Solomon we can learn that the sad times in our life build character. And for that, we should be thankful.

So my friends, don’t be afraid to think on something sorrowful from time to time. Allow the shortness of life and the gravity of things to affect you. In contrast, be wary of those who never think on things that provide seriousness. Don’t allow yourself to seek laughter without end, but don’t shy from laughter either. God tells us, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Laughter is a gift from God to help us enjoy life, but let us not forget that sorrow is a gift also, to help us treasure it.

Don’t knock it till you try it?

Have you ever heard that phrase before? Maybe one of your friends was doing something weird with their condiments or they were eating frog legs or something. Perhaps they were telling you of some amazing experience they had with an extreme sport. People use the phrase many times and in many different contexts. In some situations, it may be wisdom, but in others, it is pure folly.

Think of your favorite hobby, favorite dessert, or favorite music. Imagine, if you stubbornly refused to try it, you would have missed out on something great!  But now that you have tried it, you can enjoy just one more of God’s blessings. From this perspective, “Don’t knock it till you try it” can seem like a pretty good life’s motto.

But it isn’t always wisdom.

In Proverbs 4, Solomon gives this wisdom, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” He describes the life of the wicked as one that is restless, violent, and in darkness. In contrast, the life of the just man is, “as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

Solomon’s charge is clear. Stay away from wickedness. Trust me, you don’t need to try sin to know that it’s harmful, just like you don’t need to try jumping off a skyscraper to know it will kill you. Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of wisdom. God knows what is good for us and what is not. If we insist on “trying” evil so we can experience it, we aren’t like some wise open-minded philosopher. Instead, we are like the stubborn 5 year old who shoves his hand on the stove because he doesn’t believe what mommy said.

So next time you hear “Don’t knock it till you try it” use some discretion. If it’s a simple matter of preference, why not? Go out and try something new! If it is morally wrong or ethically shady, I leave you with the wisdom of Solomon: “Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”

Being quiet in the AM

We all know that rude person. We see them everywhere. They’re at stop lights, grocery stores, on telephones, etc. As we travel through this life we will interact with many a rude person. It is our duty to remain calm and not allow that person to steal our peace.

On the other hand, we must also make sure that we are not rude. Consideration for others is essential. We are taught to love one another. And the Bible clearly teaches that we should not be a stumbling block in another’s way. We should keep the emotions of others in mind and adjust our behavior accordingly.

Proverbs 25:20 says, "As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart " If someone is not in the best of spirits, being exuberantly happy around them, isn’t going to make things better for them. There is nothing wrong with being happy and singing songs, but discretion is advised when around those who may not share your enthusiasm.

Do you know those people who declare every a.m. that they are not morning people. Perhaps you’re not a morning person. If that is the case, you may like Proverbs 27:14, "He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him." There you have it. The wisdom of Solomon: Be quiet in the morning.

In conclusion, we should be courteous to others. We must be mindful of them, and perhaps curb a behavior they find annoying, even if there is nothing wrong with it. We are responsible for our actions and our reactions, but we do not want to cause a brother to stumble. So I would like to encourage you, be mindful of those around you, and maybe keep it down in the mornings. (for the sake of the non-morning person)

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. – Romans 12:18