Scripture reading for July 14th: Ecclesiastes 1-6
If you try to make sense of life without God in you heart or mind, there is only one term that consistently comes to mind: meaningless! Life is hard to make sense of without God’s Word or knowledge. Man is left with darkness in his understanding and the futility of life under the sun. This life without God has no real purpose or meaning. It appears that we come about by accident and leave earth by calamity or slow death. Some live short lives and others relatively long lives. Some are blessed and others struggle with troubles and pain. Our days are short and they fly by.
Solomon, the richest and wisest man who ever lived outside of Jesus Christ, decided to try to find meaning in life by pursuing riches, fame, and fortune to the maximum. The result is this book of Ecclesiastes! When you read it, you must understand it’s perspective. Solomon finds no meaning in endless days of toil and work of man. He feels that there is nothing really new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1: 9-11) We spend our time working and gathering and death takes us away. In a few years or less, no one remembers us or what we have done!
Solomon tried to find meaning with the pursuit of pleasure and things that brought laughter. He tried wine and folly but found meaninglessness! He then tried great building projects to find satisfaction. He built houses and planted vineyards and fruit orchards. He built lakes and had many servants. His herds and flocks were numerous and his treasury filled with silver and gold. He hired singers and entertainers and even bought a harem of beautiful women to enjoy as he pleased. He had no lack of anything his heart desired and he enjoyed his labor but as he thought about it, it too was meaningless! (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)
Solomon noted that all his hard work would be left behind when he died and given to someone else who did not work for it. This was a hard thing to grasp. (Ecclesiastes 3:21-23) His conclusion was that if man would eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work each day, that was a gift of God. Without God, we can’t find meaning or enjoyment! (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)
“He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Solomon concludes that God has made a time for everything under the sun. These times are in His hands and man must accept that with gratitude. Man has an inner knowledge of eternity. Each knows that he is an eternal being who will be judged by God one day, but is darkened in his understanding because of sin so that he cannot understand the plans of God.
Take a moment to thank God for revealing eternity and the plans of His heart through Jesus Christ! In Christ we now have eternity restored in God’s presence! Praise the Lord!
Scripture reading for July 6th: Proverbs 5-9
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. for the lips of an adulteress drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil. But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” (Proverbs 5:1-5)
Solomon’s warning to his sons stands as a warning to men of all ages and times. Many have heard these words and read them, but did not heed the warning and experienced the promised results. Headlines blare every day about another famous person, politician, minister, or actor who has committed adultery and brought attention. It is almost a badge of honor to those who are caught up in the world system! God calls it “sin” and it was punishable by stoning to death in the old Testament! Adultery leads to shame, disgrace, and ultimately death. This sin is also a form of idolatry that God sees as “spiritual adultery” in breaking our relationship with Him!
Satan has used women and sexual desires to cause the ruin and death of many throughout history. Solomon’s own father, David, succumbed to the temptation of adultery and his sin has been read about for over 3000 years! Solomon, himself, had over 1000 women in his harem. These wives were his downfall, because many worshiped idols and they brought idolatry into Solomon’s life! Sexual promiscuity is itself related to idolatry. We are setting up our desires as superior to the Word of God and creating an idol out of our own appetite!
Many times, men recklessly believe that they will not be seen or caught in their adulterous forays. Even if the affair is secret to all others, God sees everything ! (Proverbs 5:21) God promises us that the cords of our sin will hold us fast and we will die for our lack of discipline! (Proverbs 5:22-23) Often men blame the women for enticing them. They may also blame their own wife for a lack of sex or affection that drives them to another woman. The truth of the matter is God sees it as their own folly that is at fault!
The Bible is very clear on the consequences of adultery. Death and the grave are both mentioned more than once as a consequence of going in with an adulteress. (Proverbs 5:5) (Proverbs 7:27) Regret, oppression, depression and misery are also mentioned as following this adulteress. (Proverbs 5:9-14; Proverbs 6:33) Possible retaliation by the husband of the adulteress could cost your life and peace! (Proverbs 6:34-35) The verse that talks about taking fire into his lap may be referring to sexually transmitted diseases. Scientists have found that syphilis was common among the kings whose remains were mummified. (Proverbs 6:27) When looked at objectively, there are really no desirable benefits to adultery!
Wisdom will keep us from the adulterous woman. Discretion will guard us and keep us away from her door. The fear of the Lord will cause us to hate this evil and love truth. Jesus Christ has been made to us our wisdom! (1st Corinthians 1:30)
Scripture reading for July 4th: Proverbs 1-4
I have personally read Proverbs dozens of times over the last thirty years. For many years I read the entire book of Proverbs each month as a daily discipline. For the past 8 years, I have read the chapter of Proverbs for that day at the bi-weekly men’s accountability breakfast that I am a part of. Even though I have read or heard Proverbs many times, I am still impressed at how they speak freshly to us about our daily lives. Wisdom is a bubbling brook!
Hearing and listening can be two different things. Almost everyone can hear what is being said but listening in order to learn and apply truth is a different process requiring humility and a teachable spirit. As we begin the book of Proverbs, take a moment to check your hearing and listening abilities. Put your mind in a learning mode. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you new insights about successful living and decision making as well as who God is.
Solomon is the author of many of the proverbs. He was David’s son through his wife Bathsheba. Solomon was visited by God and given an opportunity to ask for anything he desired. He asked for wisdom to rule God’s people. God was pleased and the proverbs are some of the written record of the wisdom God blessed Solomon with. Solomon wanted to pass that wisdom on to his sons. These early chapters talk about the benefits of wisdom and how it may be found. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 1:7) There are those who either don’t want wisdom or are so enthralled with their own way that Solomon gives them names. Simple, fool, and mocker are the three names of those who refuse to listen and learn! (Proverbs 1:7, 22) Thankfully, those names are not descriptive of any of us!
Listening to wisdom has many blessings. It brings knowledge and discretion to the young as well as guidance. (Proverbs 1:4-5) It brings safety to those who listen and they have rest and no fear of harm. (Proverbs 1:33) A person who listens to wisdom understands the fear of the Lord and finds knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5) Your soul will find joy and you will rest in God’s protection. You will be kept safe from wicked men who are on crooked paths leading to destruction. (Proverbs 2:12-15) You will also avoid the adulterous woman and her path that leads to death. (Proverbs 2:16-19) Listening and keeping wisdom brings long life and prosperity. (Proverbs 3:2) Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her and they will be richly blessed! (Proverbs 3:18)
Wisdom is to be prized above any other treasure. (Proverbs 3:13-15) We must lay hold of wisdom by taking hold of the words given by the Father. (Proverbs 4:1-5) We must prize it and faithfully esteem wisdom. We must hold onto instructions of wisdom and guard them. Wisdom is our life and health to our whole body! (Proverbs 4:22) Wisdom is to reside in our heart! (Proverbs 4:23) Wisdom sounds a lot like Jesus Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge! (Colossians 2:2-3)