This coffee ain’t for newborns, son. It’ll either kill you or make a man of you. Help yourself.”
A man has to deal with the things that are happening.”
–Dan Arnold (Bear Creek)
Several years ago, Charles Swindoll penned an outstanding book on Ecclesiastes–Living on the Ragged Edge. In working on my notes for “How to Live in a Pagan, Apostate, and Foolish World” I’ve found that I could have easily called it “Living on the Ragged Edge.” Perhaps Rev. Swindoll should do an update. Look at the world around you: antifa, BLM, terror, COVID, hatred, racism, the stupidity of sanctuary cities, influx of illegal aliens, backlog of cargo, and on and on….
Ecclesiastes has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. Be careful in reading it however, for it is easy to look at a verse and take it out of context. Read the whole first, then go back to dig out the little gems within the book. As Christians we must realize that we live in this crazy, insane, mad world. We are not to escape it, but we are to move through it and survive. Remember, we are to worship in truth which means “reality.” In this mad world, we continue to worship and live.
“Survival is directly linked to living in the ever present, fast-moving realm of reality.”
Ecclesiastes is the book of the “Preacher,” or the “Teacher,” depending upon the version you are reading. One person has said the person writing is “The Searcher,” depicting the searching mind that has looked over all of life and observed what is behind the actions of people. Look for a moment at the second verse from several versions:
“‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'” (NKJV)
“Vapor of vapors and futility of futilities, says the Preacher, vapor of vapors and futilities of futilities, all is vanity–emptiness, falsity, and vainglory.” (Amplified)
“‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.'” (NIV)
“‘Absolute futility,’ says the Teacher. ‘Absolute futility. Everything is futile.'” (HCSB)
In a nutshell this is saying that nothing in and of itself will satisfy. Man may search, man may experiment, man may try to escape–but nothing satisfies.
The Book of Ecclesiastes examines the major endeavors of life and warns about false purposes in life. In the long run who cares about your intellectualism, or your wealth and luxury, or your politics, or your pseudo-religion. Someone has suggested that a subtitle to Ecclesiastes might be: “The Things That Won’t Work.” However, in reading the book one does come up with two major conclusions. First, enjoy life–not the hedonistic lifestyle, but also know that life without enjoyment is no life at all. Second, fear God–there must be honest humility before God. Samuel Cox writes, “Those who raise the question, ‘Is life worth living?’ answer it by–living on; for no man lives simply to proclaim what a worthless and wretched creature he is.”
This book was intended to be a book in celebration of joy. It was commonly read on the third day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Realize that we are to be living this life. My pastor, G.R. Kelly said that, “Life is living.” Every day as we take a breath we need to realize that life is a gift of God and we need to be living it for His glory.
“The mood of Ecclesiastes is one of delight, with the prospect of living and enjoying all the goods of life once man has come to fear God and keep His commandments.”
–Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.
Seems like I always calm down and forget the grief of a weary world when you’re around.”
–Ernest Haycox (Whispering Range)
How to Live in a Pagan, Apostate, and Foolish World
Key Verse: “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the power and control of the evil one.” –1 John 5:19 (NLT)
Hiding the truth–that is not love. Compromising the truth–that is not love. Hatred, worry, and despair–that is not love. It seems almost contradictory that a way in which we survive in this evil world is to love.
Many years ago, I was walking down the hallway in the school where I was teaching. There was a parent coming my direction and he blurted out in passing, “Love you brother.” After he went on by I stopped and turned to look at him shaking my head. It was a cliche coming from him, for I had never been shown any love from him in the past. It was something that was supposed to be said. A similar situation is when a guest speaker gets up in front of an audience and cries out, “I love you all.” Nonsense! Yet, we are to love, especially those of the faith. How can you love if you do not know a person?
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
–1 John 4:7-8 (NASB)
To know about love it is vital to look at 1 Corinthians 13. Love is not puffed up; not easily provoked, does not think evil; not to rejoice in evil about others. Love gives us hope. We are to have patience, be in sympathy, and understand the feelings, situations, and problems of others. Love is not easy. In fact, we cannot have true “agape” love without the Holy Spirit living in us.
God’s nature is love–you cannot think of God without love. Love is of God, love is from God, love flows from God. This love is not natural love. Only when this love is flowing through you can you say to a believer you have never met–love you brother. It has to come from the Holy Spirit. Know this, that loving one another is evidence of our new birth. We cannot love as God loves without being born again.
A key to love/loving is knowing God. To love we must know God and if we do not love do we really know God?
“God is love, and therefore, the more I know God, the more will I know that God is love, and the more I will know about love.”
–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
As we grow in grace; as the Holy Spirit works on and in our lives we come to know God better. We are not as much concerned about the things we know about Him, but our interest is to know God Himself. Matthew writes, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (5:48, NASB) Perfection??!! How can we become perfect? Do not be afraid of that word. I have told many students over the years who sought perfection that they can’t be perfect, but they can be excellent. This perfection Matthew writes about is to reach a goal; to be complete, mature. The more the Holy Spirit works within us the more we become like Christ, therefore, the more complete we become. The more we can walk through this pagan and foolish world with the love of Christ in us.
He was dependable; a man who would do his share of the work and more. In other words, the kind of man you’d want alongside you in the tough times.”
–D.C. Adkisson (Troubles at Gregory Gulch)
“Man goes out to his work And to his labor until the evening.”
–Psalm 104:23 (NKJV)
There are many of our core foundations being struck out today. Foundations that are vital to the survival of this nation. One of them is the work ethic. Just recently I drove up to Missouri and everywhere–I mean everywhere– there were signs: “Hiring,” “Positions Available,” “Applications Being Accepted.” If I would have counted them they would have been up in the hundreds. We ate dinner one evening at a restaurant and were told that they had to go from a full menu to a small buffet because they did not have the workers.
Too long now, there have been too many given a free ride. Now, don’t get me wrong, if a hand is needed then it should go out, but there are too many freeloaders in this country. Too many who would rather get a welfare check than put in an honest day’s work. What has happened? This foundation of America is in danger of cracking.
Many years ago I did a study regarding work. (Maybe one day I’ll dig it out of the files or boxes). The gist of the study came up with two premises:
1) The purest form of natural joy is man’s enjoyment in his work.
2) The purest form of joy is in Jesus Christ.
A hard day’s work brings welcome sleep. A hard day’s work brings satisfaction–JOY. But far too often people grumble and complain about working. People have become lazy, wanting a handout, wanting their debt removed, wanting a free ride, wanting others to take up their slack. In all my years of working one of those individuals that caused me much consternation was a slacker. A person who slacks in their work is a person who is not to be trusted.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is “Nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24, NKJV) The NLT puts it, “to find satisfaction in his work.” You want to see a nation’s foundation crack, let the people go to a welfare state (socialism).
America has always been known for its work ethic, industriousness, and innovation. The Puritan Work Ethic was ingrained into the soul of the people. God ordained work, God called people to their position; therefore man was to work, not only to provide for his family, but also for the glory of God. The further man moved from this concept the more socialism has been able to creep in. Many businesses have had to shut down simply because the people don’t have a mind to work.
“When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.”
–Psalm 128:2 (NKJV)
“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”