Tag Archives: Ecclesiastes

What to do when they don’t understand

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At the onset of salvation God had me in a place where the word of God took preeminence in the decisions of the church, our conversations, basically life in general. We talked about the Word of God over breakfast, lunch or dinner and when sermons were preached the message was very, very personal to me. Sometimes too personal. It was as if someone had whispered in that preacher’s ear the very words I needed to hear. Over time I learned that it was spiritual discernment and that God had not actually told the preacher my sins in detail but that God would lay a message upon his heart that was needful in my life for that place in time. There were occasions that I also allowed the flesh to read more into it than necessary. God’s pretty basic with His conversations. Now, He could be far more intellectual than the brightest of men, after all He created conversation. But usually God speaks to the souls of men in a manner befitting a kindergartner. You cannot say that you do not understand what He meant. He broke it down. You can ignore it, but you can’t un-hear it.

God still works like that with me. The word of God takes preeminence in my life be it in the spoken, written or sung word. There’s a message for my soul specifically. I look for it and I long for it because I need to feel the presence of God in my life.  When I miss it, it frustrates me. So this morning I set out to determine a circumstance in my life that has me more than a little frustrated. And as always, God is faithful.

At this time in my life, I’m feeling very misunderstood. And for a person who wears her heart on her sleeve and communicates through the spoken and written word, being misunderstood hurts my heart. Because I feel that I am an oracle of God. (1 Peter 4:11)

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

So I determined in myself this morning to get to the bottom of this with God, and so I awoke and began to search scripture for what God’s message to me would be concerning the matter at hand. By that search I ended up in the book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, the wisest of all men, and who certainly had his share of life illustrations.

Because I’m of a passionate nature when it comes to personal and spiritual matters, frustration can run a close second to anger. I can get in the flesh and allow Satan to fill my mind full of notions that have no bearing in truth, but they sound good. Notions in respect to opinions. So I want to get anger out of the way first and foremost and so I landed on Ecclesiastes 7:9

Be Not Hasty

Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

And so I stopped there. Obviously that was it. I just need to stop jumping to conclusions. Perhaps I was reading more into the situation than was there. And as I was about to shut the book on it, I heard God say… “I’m not through, keep reading.” I think God likes a three point sermon too. And so I continued on.

Be not High-minded

I don’t know what would ever give me the idea that I’ve arrived when it comes to understanding God’s ways, but for some reason I always think that I should. I’m just silly enough to think that God and I are so tight that He’ll let me in on what He’s doing in life, mine and everyone else’s. I know… that’s ridiculous. But in reality I’m clueless. And its why I turn to His word, looking for the “in” that lets me be in the “know” with God. So I continued to read.

10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.

11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.

God’s so funny. I had been focusing a lot recently on what I considered to be better days. And God reminded me it’s not good to rest on my laurels. Yes, those were amazing times, but wouldn’t it be sad if that was it. God still has so much more to do, and though wisdom from the past is a great inheritance to have, there’s profit in looking to the future. That’s a good word for anyone!

And so I thought I’d better continue to see what else God had to say to me this morning concerning the hurt in my heart.

Be Not Heavy Hearted

21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:

22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.

And there it was. My conclusion to God’s three point sermon to me this morning. It only matters what God thinks. All the words that are spoken about me or to me are of naught, if God’s blessing isn’t on them. People hurt people. That’s life. Mine and everyone else’s.

So Praise God! I will continue being the “me” God created me to be. If King Solomon the wisest of all couldn’t figure out men, I’d be pretty foolish to think that I could. And though I’m no one in the eyes of the world, in God’s world I was appreciated enough to die for. That’s a reason to shout, and to praise and think outside the box that the world loves to put God in. Amen? I think so. Amen!

How To Make a Lemonade Life Out of Lemons

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Solomon is said to be the wisest man to have ever lived, and I don’t doubt it. His words were salve to my troubled soul this morning. I don’t understand why God chooses to allow this world to continue in the state that it’s in. I’ve never seen so much evil. I’ve never felt the fierceness of sin trying to turn my own mind away from God such as I do right now. The closer I try to get to God the greater the oppression of the enemy on my soul and the vexation of my spirit. So to hear that even the wisest of men struggled with that understanding gives me some comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in my search for peace.

There is something about the tartness of a lemon that has always been a metaphor in life. Very few people would bite into that fruit and pleasure in the experience. It’s a jaw puckering, eye quivering, taste like no other. But squeeze the juice out of those babies into a pitcher, dilute it with water and add the sweetness of sugar and it’s a whole new day! The sour is overcome, the taste buds dance and the soul is made happy in a beverage. The lemon is no longer looked upon as a painfully sour fruit but rather something to be savored.

A bite out of life sometimes yields the same result. A piece of my day viewed from the perspective of just a brief period of time is bitter, and harsh. The pain sears my spirit. It’s too much to consume. Broken dreams are like an unsweetened lemon. I try to grab hold of faith, reign in my thoughts but the bitter, sour taste has my eyes closed and teeth clenched. I can’t see anything sweet, I only taste the lemon.

Ecclesiastes 5, the words of Solomon, had a lemonade making effect on my life today and wise advice:

Living the Dream!

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

We all long for the dreamlife; the one without heartache, sorrow and struggles. But that dream is almost always mingled with a few nightmares. Stay focused. Keep your footing in the house of God where the Word of God is preached, a support system is in place and an accountability program in effect. Listen more and talk less. Work harder and be idle less. Satan is full of ideas that he loves to share with busy people trying to make things happen. Be not hasty with decisions, it almost always leads to heartache. I have worn that shirt many times!

Leave the Lies

Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

So, so many times I’ve dreamed dreams and said to God, “God, if only You’ll do this, I’ll do this.” God’s not in to empty promises.  Solomon words advise us to keep our dreamlife in perspective. Fear God more than fearing failure. Failing isn’t always the problem, refusing to admit you failed and moving on is often the problem. When God doesn’t allow a dream to come to pass, perhaps that was your dream not His. Or perhaps you didn’t work hard enough at the dream. “That” is life in perspective for me. Be honest with yourself. God already knows.

So what then? What do we do when life doesn’t turn out the way we anticipated?

Learning the Lesson

A brief and incomplete summary of verses 8-17 is that even when we do life as best we can, reality can still be harsh, heartaches can still come, and the dream may or may not be fulfilled. Money won’t buy happiness, life is brief, and we’ll take nothing with us when we die. But understand that God was there through it all and through it all there was a purpose.

The lesson to be learned is this, the dream is not the achievement, the dream is the process that leads to success.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ~ Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

How’s Your Hinges today?

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There are days when I write that I think I’m writing to read what I have to say. Then I am reminded of the preachers of little country churches who preach Sunday after Sunday to a house of  a half dozen filled seats and a dozen or so good intentions who didn’t show up; it is then that I count it a privilege to have a place that I can share what God speaks to my heart. Every soul that reads the words I write, and are encouraged by my thoughts are soldiers in the field of battle that I’ve had the opportunity to support. God knows each one and I’m encouraged by that. It still however does not stop me from counting and complaining. For myself as a writer and speaker, and for the Pastors that labor and study to fill the pulpit on Sunday, preaching to more air than mass.

Ecclesiastes 12:8-11

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. 10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

It reminds me of that song “I’m working on a Building.”

Church attendance is not proof of salvation, but the lack of church attendance is evidence of commitment issues. If people attended work like they do church they’d be fired. And before you say that you have to work to survive and pay bills, let me call to remembrance the scripture in Ephesians 2:17-22 (speaking of Jesus)

17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Sunday is the day we go to the hardware store! While that job that pays the bills is important for survival and filling your house with the necessities of life therein, it’s a temporary housing unit for life. Our permanent dwelling isn’t finished yet. (Lest we’d be in it!) And the building material necessary for that life is found in the house of God and in the Word of God.

Solomon said that all was vanity. We spend so much time living for ourselves that we forget our real purpose. Solomon the preacher was wise and taught the people. The people were wise in that they showed up! He reminded them that this life is short… James 4:14 says ~ It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

The words of the wise (the preacher) are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. He’s talking about the building, that’s us! Paul in verse 22 of Ephesians said “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:” That’s the church! The men and women of God who share His word have got the construction material for you to build your house, and if you don’t  show up at the hardware store on Sunday, and read and study His Word the rest of the week, your doors may fall off the hinges, or your pipes might break! The preacher is a goad… it doesn’t sound very flattering but I hope I’m a goad to. Someone that pokes you and prods you into living closer to cross of Christ. That was the first thing He built for us… and then He died on it. So that we could live in this house of flesh and serve Him where we are.

Glory to God! I’m workin’  on a buildin’, I’m workin’ on a buildin’, I’m workin’ on a buildin’ for my Lord, for my Lord!

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Trust God to Take Care of the Powers that Be

chick in dcLuke 2:1-4

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” and each day that the Lord allows me to continue serving and studying His Word the more those words come to life. I see God’s purpose in the intricate threads woven through my day, people, conversations, events, all playing their part in the Lord’s purpose for each of us. A different purpose for different people heading to the same place. Heaven.

Prior to Luke 2, it was prophecy… but there in Luke’s telling of the events of the birth of Christ we see prophecy fulfilled and a few notable players that had no intention of helping. He was born at the time when the fourth monarchy was at the height of its glory and was known as a powerful, universal monarchy. It was called ironically (or not) Terraram orbis imperium – The empire of the whole earth. Luke called it “all the world,” and there was scarcely any part of the civilized world that wasn’t dependent on it. I could imagine that being the breeding ground for government arrogance.

Sound familiar? It likely does if you’ve watched the news lately.

Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 2:44) said that this would be the time the Messiah would be born. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

The kings Daniel spoke of were the Kings of the fourth monarchy, those in control in the days of Joseph, Mary and their soon to be Son Jesus, the Son of God Who would reign in the everlasting Kingdom of God. Mary lived in Nazareth, but for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled He needed her in Bethlehem as foretold in the Old Testament book of Micah 5:2 

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

And so it was that the seed would be planted in the mind of Ceasar, let’s tax the world and make everyone return where they came from. Who cares about the hardship on the people, we own them! Bwahahaha. I added that for effect. Ceasar wasn’t a man of God, he was man of his own power… and yet…. Unbeknown to him, God controlled his buttons like a remote control car under the Christmas tree. And for such a time and purpose, the very expectant Mary packed her purse and climbed on board the donkey, and she and her husband returned to Bethlehem and prophecy became the person of Baby Jesus.

The last prophecies to be fulfilled from the Bible are the end time prophecies and the same arrogance of Caesar (who thought himself god) and Herod who feared the baby King Jesus so much that he ordered boys born of that time period to be slain are alive and well today. The political factions of our day believe they are in full control of our fate, they tax and govern with haphazard results and all the while God sits on the throne with the remote, waiting in His time to push the buttons that finish what He started on that Bethlehem night. Although the political players are big in their own mind, it’s no game; it’s serious business. And the obscure people in the scenes of the story that is unfolding, are us! We are God’s people with purpose which is to present the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

Nobody was expecting God to use a little virgin girl to bring the King into the world. So to the little churches up the hills and hollers of West Virginia and other places across the globe, keep on keeping on… you have purpose, and it’s our time. Trust God to take care of the powers that be. He did it with Caesar Augustus, our leadership should be a cinch!

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Stop! in the name of Love

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Last night I taught our teens from the Francis Chan study on Crazy Love and managed to heap huge conviction upon myself. I hate that! But it’s necessary in your walk with Christ to look at life through the eyes of God, not the eyes of self. I measure up pretty good next to me… as a matter of fact we’re dead even. But line me up next the disciples, or Who we should be lining ourselves up to (Christ Himself) and I’m not so hot. I fall far short of who I should be. I don’t fall in to the completely lukewarm category but I have tendencies that no doubt make God’s stomach queasy.

Going through the motions:

Isaiah 29:13 says “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”

Does that not describe the church of modern day to a tee? Everybody’s a Christian (just ask them) but their lives certainly don’t back it up. SMO’s. “Sunday morning only folk.” If you’re one of them, I’m about to get on your last nerve. If we feasted on food like we feast on the word of God you could count our ribs. It’s truth. How on earth do we expect to survive in perilous times, when the only thing that’s going to get you through is the promises of God? And we don’t’ have them. I’m so proud of my group of teens at our church. Wednesday night we’re packed out! But the truth is, we could do better. That’s why I’ve been doing this Crazy Love series with them. I don’t want lukewarm Christians in my class, I want crazy kids who are sold out for Jesus Christ and they don’t care who knows it. I want them to look at their friends and understand if they don’t tell them about Christ, there’s a good chance no one else will either; and the end result is their friend will go to Hell.

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:2It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” A funeral is better than a party? Yes, because a funeral brings the reality that our lives are like a vapor.

James 4:14

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

If we lived what we say we believe we’d be telling someone about Christ. As a gospel singer I’ve sang at a great multitude of funerals. They’ve not all been for saved people. As a matter of fact the very first funeral I sang for was for a lost soul. His family asked me to sing “Hello in Heaven,” because it was too late for the one whose funeral was being held, but it was not too late for the rest of their friends and family. That was a real eye opener for me as a young convert. I’ve been blessed to be among a congregation of people who try to live for Christ. We all fail. Daily. But we’re trying.

I encourage you to live for Jesus today and tell someone about His saving grace before it’s too late. Live the crazy love that we’re taught the disciples lived.  God likely will not ask you to give up everything you own and serve Christ, but are you willing to use what He’s given you to serve Him? What friend or family are you willing to let go to Hell? You’ve likely said none… but what are you doing to stop it?

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Exercise Don’t Come Easy

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Ecclesiastes 1:13 ~ And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

Ol’ Solomon. Or so tradition has it. Some believe Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon in his youth, the book of Proverbs in his middle age, and the book of Ecclesiastes when he was old. His entire life he’d given to search out the wisdom of God, and it was often a burdensome feat.

I get that. Especially this week, only it’s not a burdensome feat, but rather burdensome feet that have got me in sore travail. Another crazy antic in the life of Shari found me in nothing less than a Physical Education teacher class with PE teachers being trained to implement SPARK curriculum. Shari… the blogger… who exercises her mind, not her body, although I should have been. Shari… the out of shape blogger has had 3 six hours days of jumping, dancing, hoola hooping… (don’t go there, not a pretty image) and now has a sore heel due to the “cute” little flat sandals I wore the first day, not knowing I was going to be actually in this class, not just helping to set it up.

How much better it would have been had I been studied up. Or at least thinner.

I fear there will be those taking the tests of life, and especially the final, unprepared and sore vexed for answers from their lack of exercise of faith. Solomon himself said it was a hard task to study the things of God, even before the days of Facebook and Twitter and all the other gadgets and activities that consume our time. How much more now… are these gadgets and activities a trial or blessing. We need time to prepare.

It’s not only preachers who need to “study to show themselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15). Studying scripture is not for the bible scholar, although they need it, but for every common man, woman and child so that when the trials of life come upon them they’ve had an exercised faith that’s ready for the work out. Someone dies, someone’s ill, financial struggle, broken hearts and all of life’s frustrations are covered in the training manual. And practiced in the lives of saints if you’ll watch them every day.

During this training a young man sat down at our breakfast table before the day started and out of the corner of my eye I watched him bow his head and bless his food. He not only had trained his body, but trained his mind in Spiritual things as well. I was so grateful! I had wondered that morning if my own faith would be understood that day, and God sent another of his warriors to the table as if to say… you’re not alone Shari.

Perhaps to day you’re in the midst of exercise of faith. Train on. God will strengthen you in the trial.

So… what if today you stood before God taking the final, are you prepared? Would you have the answer if He ask, “Why should I allow you to enter Heaven?”

I’ll even give you a cheat sheet. The answer would be given by Christ when He said, “They’re mine. They’ve claimed Me as their Savior, trusted me for their Salvation. They ask me into their heart at the age of _____.”

Could you fill in the blank? If not you’ve failed, and that’s one exam you can’t afford to fail, because there’s not a do-over. Eternity in Hell will be the penalty.

A loving God will not make you prepare, it’s your choice. I hope you’ve made it! If you’d like to know more or you’re unsure, follow this link: http://thejesuschick.com/the-road-to-salvation/

An f5 Transition

Nine months ago Victory Baptist Church set on the brink of uncertainly with our Pastor of 21 years leaving and there was a gamut of emotions within me. I feared being leaderless, I had concerns over what a new leader’s ideas might be and what my role would be in the church, I had trepidation for my co-workers in Christ, how would they weather this storm we were about to go through and would the storm be a breeze or would it be an f5 tornado; and who would be left standing when the wind died down? I had faith that I’d be one of them, but also the reality that I’d seen many others in the faith who’d walked away from God in good times, so I knew I wasn’t invincible. Over nine months we’ve gone through the F5 phases of transition: fear, fret, frustration, fatigue and praise God, faith!

So last night as I watched my new Pastor, Steven Carter, announce his resignation to his current church my heart sunk a little for them. Not as much, because their circumstances are far different from ours; he was a co-pastor with his father. Therefore their transition is more the adjustment to the filling of roles that Pastor Steven played and missing his family’s presence in their congregation, which I don’t make light of. Things that are different are not the same… I think someone wrote a book about that once. Oh yeah… my new Pastor’s father! But even though our circumstances are different, there is one thing for certain, the transitions in life are usually only enjoyable at completion. That middle part… it’s rough.

Life transitions… childhood to adult, single to married, full nest to empty next, job to job, location to location… the list is endless. Life is ever changing. And Solomon, the wisest guy of all said it well in Ecclesiastes 7:8 when he said “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

It’s great when we get to the position in life where everyone’s comfortable in their place and content with that stage of life, but when things are a little shaky and uncertain there’s a humility necessary. You tend to rely on one another more and turn to God more frequently than before. I’m speaking tomorrow at a ladies retreat about how “epic failure equals expert.” So can transition. It’s a learning experience. Now that we’re almost to the other side of this phase in our church we can draw from that for future transitions. This was a first for many of us. I’d had only one Pastor since salvation in 1996, that’s about to change!

I’ve seen others not fare so well in the transition. Their f5 was full of fault finding, falsehoods, forsakenness, foolishness and fussin’. And what it left was devastation. Transition success is relational. It’s not leaving one to never return, it’s about moving down the road to the next phase. The road’s still open (unless you burn the bridge). But it’s good to travel back down the road from whence we came and pull from those experiences, and talk to those people to remind us of the lessons we learned in that phase. That’s why transitioning correctly can make you an expert.

Is Victory Baptist Church an expert? We had less than glowing moments, but they were short lived. And because of that, the ties that bind us are even tighter. We depended on each other, a lot! We talked a lot along transitions road, sometimes healthy conversations, sometimes not. But the point of the matter is as we’re nearing the end of our phase, another church is just beginning theirs. Life…. Forever changing. It’s best to stay in the slow lane when transitioning from place to place, enjoy the view…roll the windows down and get some fresh air… stop and ask directions…. Fill your tank up… keep travelin’…. Enjoy the destination when you arrive. But don’t drive your tent pegs too deep!