Advice and Instruction

Eccl. 4:1-3.

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.

Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.

Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

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Solomon turned back to his earlier observations: The tears of the oppressed; the power of the oppressors; neither had a comforter; it is better to be dead; better yet to never have been born.

Clearly, he is still looking at everything “under the sun,” or through the eyes of man and not the eyes of God. Because his vision was through human eyes, he came to rather dismal conclusions:

Because of the oppression and travail of the oppressed, and because there was no comfort for the oppressed or the oppressor, Solomon concluded that the dead are better off than the living, and that not to have been born would be even better than being dead.

At the end of Chapter 3, he actually seemed to be finding his way; but Chapter 4 took him right back down to the dismals. But don’t lose hope; he does get it right, and in this chapter you will see that his thinking is finally coming to a better perspective.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Father’s Day

My dad was a pastor. He walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, and then he gave me to Terry, switched places with the pastor who had asked “Who gives this woman. . .” and continued the ceremony. I still think it was a great privilege to have my dad perform our wedding. He’d baptized Terry, as well, and was definitely instrumental in nudging us toward one another.

I’m sorry the quality of the picture is so poor. I should have taken it out of the plastic holder. But I love this picture. My dad is still young, in his 40’s, and hadn’t suffered any of the conditions that plagued the last ten years of his life.

He was a big man, strong and capable. Look especially at his left hand holding the Bible. He had big, big hand and thick forearms. He’d worked hard as a boy growing up, then in the Navy, and later fixing cars in body shops as he worked his way through Bible college.

I remember once, when I had to be about 5, it was very icy. I think we were in the church parking lot. I remember he took hold of my small hand in his (to me) HUGE one, and held on tight until we were on safer ground.

I also remember those hands holding his only son. I was 14 when “Little John” was born, and I loved watching Dad cradle the baby in those big hands. Johnny was the caboose. A big surprise to both my parents, since there had been no more babies after me. My sister is a couple of years older. We were all excited, but I think for Dad it was of special importance that he had a son, a namesake. Not that he loved us less. That wasn’t part of the picture. But you learn, soften, and grow as time passes, and he was different with Johnny. When we moved to southern Minnesota, Johnny was still a baby. It was cold, and often Dad would tuck the baby inside his overcoat as he walked from the house to the church, which was on the same property.

My dad was no saint, except in the sense of being a born-again child of God. He’d grown up hard, and allowing God to temper him took some time. But I’m so thankful that he was my dad, for many years my pastor, and the best Bible teacher ever. He died when he was only 70. He’d be 96 today, but there’s no time in heaven. I think he’s just as young, strong, and handsome as he is in my memories. And one of these days I’ll see him again.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Our Car Story: aka God’s Goodness!

Word Press informed me this morning that I haven’t posted anything in TWO WHOLE DAYS! I guess it’s nice of them to track me that closely. Maybe. Not sure.

Anyway, I want to share with you how God has blessed us lately.

About two weeks ago, a huge thunderstorm rolled across my corner of Pennsylvania. I was at work in Coopersburg, had just finished with my last client of the day, when the hail started. The hail wasn’t gigantic, but it lasted for several minutes.

This is the actual size

Because the wind and rain were so heavy, I had already decided to wait until things settled down again before I drove home. So I stood at the window of my office and watched the hail pummel my dearly loved car. We’d gotten it in September 2018, not even a whole year ago. It was an ’09 model, but in very good condition. We got it for a song because, as the dealer told us, it was scheduled to be sent for auction the very next day. It’s a Cadillac. Imagine! We’ve never had such a classy car. Well, unless you count Terry’s 1964 GTO. Yeah, that was classy.

So now my beautiful Caddy has tons of dimples, concentrated on the trunk lid and the top of the car. When Terry contacted our insurance, he was told that the smartest thing to do would be to total it because it’s an older car and would cost more than it’s worth to repair the damage.

Total my car? NOOOooooo!!

Now, I’ve never been terribly attached to material possessions. They come and go, right? I admit to loving my teapots and my dolls, but they, too, are transitory. However, I am a woman of (usually) great common sense, and I knew we’d been given the most sensible advice.

Then they told us how much they would give us for the car.

My word! SO much more than we expected! I was amazed, and so was Terry. They didn’t base it on what we had actually paid for it, but on the real value of the car and the cost of replacing it. Thank You Lord, for this gift!

The search, then, started. Terry spent a lot of quality time with the computer, looking for a newer car that was within our reach because of the insurance payment. He’s a lot more patient than I am about doing that sort of thing.

Cutting right to the point, we now have a beautiful 2013 model in the garage. It’s a bit smaller than the Caddy (it’s a Ford Fusion Hybrid) but I’m already learning to enjoy the feel and the bells and whistles. First time we’ve had a car I can sync with my cell phone; or that has GPS installed, or shows you exactly where you are when you’re parking, backing out, etc.

Did we NEED such a nice car? No. But God has told us that He can and will supply our needs (John 14:13-14; Philippians 4:19). We prayed for His leading, and there is no doubt that He led us to the car He had chosen for us.

In I Timothy 6:17, we read that God has given us all things richly to enjoy. I believe it is a delight to the Father to give us what we need and even what we simply want. And He went way above and beyond on this one, for both the Cadillac and the Ford. He knew what was going to happen. The way was already there; we just had to find it.

We are thankful.

Man and Beast

Eccl. 3: 18-19.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

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Men (humankind) and animals are the same in one respect. They all die, and their bodies return to dust. It is also true that man can become bestial in lusts and conduct, sharing a lack of spiritual understanding with animals.

Man, under the curse, has no preeminence over the beasts as far as physical death is concerned, because he is under the penalty for sin; this is eternal death, which naturally brings physical death. Man is appointed once to die and after this the judgment (Heb. 9:27). Animals are not under the death penalty for sin; still, they die and always will, for they were made subject to death like the flowers, trees, and vegetation. Until God removes the penalty of sin and death, man and all other life will continue to die. The removal of the curse will happen only after God creates a new heaven and a new earth, and sin will no longer have power over us because Satan will be banned forever in the Lake of Fire, and will have no more access to the hearts and minds of mankind.

Even during the Millennial Reign of Jesus, when Satan is bound for 1000 years, there will be sin and death. That is because not all who enter the Millennium will be born again believers, and there is the possibility of crime that can lead to instant penalty, including execution. Also, children will be born during the Millennium, and they still carry the blot of the sin nature passed on from Adam and Eve. Their parents will do well to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ very early in their lives, just as Christian parents should do now.

Man’s Wickedness and Judgment

Eccl. 3:16-17.

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

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Solomon saw injustices in the place of judgment and had to acknowledge that sin was there. He concluded that it would take God, the righteous judge, to give absolute justice (Matt. 16:27).

This judgment of both the righteous and the wicked is most fair and just. Why would the righteous not be judged? How could God give them reward or loss of reward and if they were never judged for the good and bad things done in life? The popular theory that God will judge the righteous for their good deeds only, for the purpose of giving them reward, is false. Everybody, saints and sinners, are to be judged for the bad deeds committed in the body during a lifetime, as well as for the good things (Matt. 10:40-42; 16:27; Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:9-10).

A verse that has long spoken to me is Matthew 12:36. ”  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. ” So what is an idle word? Idle comes from the Greek argos, and it means a. free from labor, at leisure (ἀργὸν εἶναι,  Matthew 20:361 Timothy 5:13.
b. lazy, shunning the labor which one ought to perform.
(Blue Letter Bible)

When do we get into the most trouble with what we say? When we are idle, lazy, not occupied with that which we ought to be doing. It also carries the meaning of emptiness, which is certainly applicable to our study in Ecclesiastes.

God’s Work is Forever

Eccl. 3:14-15.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

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if you are living in fear that the world will be destroyed by climate change in 12 years, please don’t. The world as we know it will be destroyed only when God says so. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be good stewards of what God has given us. It is a shame to pollute our water, and to deplete our soil with chemical insecticides. It is a shame to pollute the air we breathe. But, while we do need to take steps to improve, the earth is not going to be destroyed in the way the environmentalists fear.

What God does endures, (lasts, continues), forever. Nothing we add or subtract can change that reality. I use this verse often as a reassurance to people who fear they will lose their salvation. If you are a true believer, hold on to the fact that God did that for you. Salvation is of the Lord. No one can take it from you. John 10: 27-30 is another reassurance about eternal security for the believer. We are kept in His hand, and nothing, no man, can remove us from His hand.

I was curious about the last clause in verse 15, so I did a little searching. The word requires carries the sense of desires, seeks for, yearns for. When I went to the commentaries on my favorite online Bible study tool, Blue Letter Bible, I found this explanation from an old and reliable commentator, Matthew Henry:

” that is, God repeats what He has formerly done and deals with us no otherwise than as He has used to deal with good men.”

As Solomon says so often, there is nothing new under the sun, including the manner in which God deals with His creation and His people.

Our Story: 50 Years #8

Final in the series of Our Story: 50 Years, originally posted in Lindaswritingblog.wordpress.com

Just Writing!

Wedding Day! June 7, 1969, we said “I Do!” And we did, with all the ups and downs, joys and sorrows that go with a long marriage.

My last semester of college was a whirlwind. Every day was filled to capacity, and more. I had set up a calendar for the wedding, listing all the things I was responsible to accomplish. I have always been organized, but this was a whole new level. Graduating, planning a wedding for one week after graduation day–and I spent most weekends at home, helping out at church and spending every spare moment with Terry.

In February, the senior class had scheduled a trip to Buck Hill, in Minneapolis, to spend a day skiing. Terry was an expert skier, and he met us at what he always referred to as “Buck Bump.” You have to understand, there are no mountains in Minnesota, and Terry had…

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