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aaronlinford

Rev. Aaron Linford
STORM – PROOF

Life is full of trouble. Storms of passion, tempests of temptation, tornadoes of misfortune molest us all. Eliphas was right: “Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). You’ve said it, brother!

Our Lord confirms this at the close of His “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 7:24-27). Where all, both “wise” and “foolish” are beset with storms. The trials were from three elements. RAIN, equals trials from above. God tests us to prove us (cf Gen 22:1 ): FLOODS, trials from below – the enemy often “comes in like a flood” (Isa 59:19) the devil is prime tempter of men: WINDS, from all quarters of the human situation that surrounds us – peer-pressure, persecution, deception, theft, neglect. What a weight of woes hurled against the sons and daughters of men!

But we can withstand them all if we take the essential safeguard. Jesus said, “Build on my words and you will be secure”, for if the infra-structure is sound, the superstructure will be safe.

The only life worth living is that which is built on divine standards. The elements of evil cannot overthrow the one who by faith relies on God’s word.

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Rev E. Anderson
GOD AT WORK

“There is a time for everything, and a season fbr every activity under heaven ” – Ecclesiastes 3: 1

The bottom life is simple: It belongs to God. He controls the calendar and what goes on it. It is easy to comprehend that with some things. Winter, spring, summer and fall come every year, without fail. The tides ebb and flow. People are born, they grow, and they die.

In fact, these examples, and many more like them, might lead us to the wrong conclusion that God controls the obvious routine things but that we have uni- lateral jurisdiction over our own lives. They might make us believe that God’s agenda and timing don’t extend into certain life areas. He sets the planets in motion, we might think, but beyond that the specifics of our lives are within our control. He might set the calendar, but we set our own clocks.
But Solomon could not be more specific in his disagreement of out notion of control. He enumerates the macro issues of life (a time to be born and a time to die), as well as life’s small details (a time to be silent and a time to speak). In both the big things and the small ones, God has a say or a plan regarding what is appropriate. That means that in all things in life, we do what He obviously mandates, or we consult Him about the appropriate action in this case, at this time, in this context.

We are not the captains of our own ships. We are passengers on a ship that God is navigating. Solomon’s advice is clear: In all aspects of life, we need to make sure that we are moving in the direction that God’s wind is blowing, as opposed to charting a different course that takes us directly into that wind. God sets the agenda and timing for all of life. No part of our days or activities is outside His reach. He controls the clock. The thermostat is on His wall. His finger flips the on-—off switch.

The seas of life are stormy enough by themselves, without adding additional stress of attempting to sail on those stormy seas in a direction opposite of the way. God’s wind is blowing.

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Rev E. Anderson
GOD AT WORK

“There is a time for everything, and a season fbr every activity under heaven ” – Ecclesiastes 3: 1

The bottom life is simple: It belongs to God. He controls the calendar and what goes on it. It is easy to comprehend that with some things. Winter, spring, summer and fall come every year, without fail. The tides ebb and flow. People are born, they grow, and they die.

In fact, these examples, and many more like them, might lead us to the wrong conclusion that God controls the obvious routine things but that we have uni- lateral jurisdiction over our own lives. They might make us believe that God’s agenda and timing don’t extend into certain life areas. He sets the planets in motion, we might think, but beyond that the specifics of our lives are within our control. He might set the calendar, but we set our own clocks.

But Solomon could not be more specific in his disagreement of out notion of control. He enumerates the macro issues of life (a time to be born and a time to die), as well as life’s small details (a time to be silent and a time to speak). In both the big things and the small ones, God has a say or a plan regarding what is appropriate. That means that in all things in life, we do what He obviously mandates, or we consult Him about the appropriate action in this case, at this time, in this context.

We are not the captains of our own ships. We are passengers on a ship that God is navigating. Solomon’s advice is clear: In all aspects of life, we need to make sure that we are moving in the direction that God’s wind is blowing, as opposed to charting a different course that takes us directly into that wind. God sets the agenda and timing for all of life. No part of our days or activities is outside His reach. He controls the clock. The thermostat is on His wall. His finger flips the on-—off switch.

The seas of life are stormy enough by themselves, without adding additional stress of attempting to sail on those stormy seas in a direction opposite of the way. God’s wind is blowing.

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Rev. E. Anderson
HAND IT OVER

“To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness” – Ecclesiastes 2:26

Solomon says there are two conclusions at the end of life, after we have done everything we are ever going to do. The first conclusion results from doing all of those things without God. But to live life without God, he says, leads to emptiness and lack of meaning in life.

The second possible conclusion is that we allow God to permeate all the different parts of our lives. When we do that, He gives us happiness, joy, meaning, and fulfilment. But then Solomon articulates another truth: People who reject God end up losing their possessions-—all the things they’ve worked so hard to accumulate and accomplish—-to one who pleases God. In Ecclesiastes 2:26, Solomon says, “To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.”

Solomon, in characteristic fashion, expresses our thoughts exactly: Such an end to all our effort would really be depressing. Who Wants to work hard and have the fruit of our labours end up in someone else’s hands? Who wants to expend all that effort and then gain none of the pleasure—and, on top of that, end up with none of the possessions or wealth? Obviously, no one. But Solomon says that’s what those who reject God can expect in the end.

Do you Want to be the one who hands it over—or the one to Whom it’s handed?

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Rev. E. Anderson

THE REWARDS OF WORSHIP

“To the man who pleases him, Gad gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.

Ecclesiastes 2:26

Does your work please God? Is your time at work focused on and directed toward Him in an attitude of worship? His commandment is straightforward: “ [H] ave no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Does He get your full attention, 24/7?

Too often worship is overlooked in our daily lives. At its best, worship is a lifestyle of devotion, reverence, and obedience; at its worst, it is mindless singing on Sunday mornings. How did we manage to rid worship of its biblical meaning? Why are we so oblivious to its rewards?

Wisdom, knowledge, and happiness wait for the one who pleases God. He is, in a sense, easy to please. God is the loving Father watching us, His children, hard at work; intently noticing the details of our actions; revelling in the joy and satisfaction we derive from a job well done; and gently correcting, instructing, and teaching us along the way.

How can we not worship this loving Father? We fail to worship Him because we do not know Him. We do not understand His ways; we do not know His character. We have stopped seeking Him. We have allowed other gods—the gods of work and leisure and myriad other distractions—to steal away our affections.

Worship is not thanking the “man upstairs” after we score a touchdown, receive an award, or nab the last parking spot in an overcrowded lot. Worship is the day- by-day, hour-by-hour acknowledgment of God’s presence. Worship stems in part from the awareness that we labour under His watchful eye and His smiling face. Surely this labour is not in vain.

What can you do today to express your worship to God?

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Rev. A. Linford

SOLOMON’S EQUATION

“A man ran do not/sing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work” – Ecclesiastes 2:2

The bottom line, according to Solomon, is that God wants us to enjoy our lives and our work. He wants us to do it right now, not at some time in the distant future. This is present tense, not future.

Finally, there is some light at the end of the tunnel in all of Solomon’s talk. He

gives us the key that unlocks the door to happiness and meaning, the secret to life: It is impossible to enjoy our lives and our work without God. Why? Because the enjoyment of life and work is separate from life and work itself. You can have one without the other. .

It’s possible to have a life full ofwork and a life lacking enjoyment of that work.

Most people don’t understand that secret. They have one part of the equation, which is work or pleasure or laughter or wine or wisdom or knowledge or possessions. They may have these things together or separately, but they are missing the second half of the equation, which is God’s gift of enjoyment of those things.

In other words, if you have a relationship with God and bring Him into all the different areas of your life, then you will live a life of joy, meaning, and fulfilment. Do you believe Solomon’s equation? It took Solomon himself a long time to believe it, but in the end, he found it to be true.

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Rev. E. Anderson
A CHASING THE WIND

“All his days his work is pain and grief even at night his mind does not rest” – Ecclesiastes 2: 23

Some folks are wise, and some folks are fools. For all we know, a fool may be the one who ends up controlling all of our efforts at work. But even if we work for a wise man, the work itself can cause pain and grief and rob us of our sleep at night.
Here’s what Solomon has said up to this point in this book: We have no original ideas; pleasure, knowledge, work, and amassing “stuff” are all meaningless; wise folks and foolish folks end up the same; everything we do will be left to someone else; and after we are gone, we will be forgotten.

Throughout Ecclesiastes, whenever Solomon uses the word meaningless or the image of chasing the wind, he is referring to a certain kind of scenario. When we try to live life without God-—even though we think that what we pursue will bring us what we want-—we end up with a very bitter and unsatisfactory conclusion.
Ecclesiastes is all about an old man reflecting on a long and full life then drawing conclusions that he wants to pass on to others to help them avoid making the mistakes he made. So how are you doing in arranging all of the elements of your life to include God in the equation? lt isn’t enough to have God in one part of our lives if He doesn’t also permeate the other parts. For example, if we include God in our marriages and family lives but shut Him out of our work, the conclusion we will reach at the end of our work lives will be precisely what Solomon articulates here: Our work and careers were meaningless; they brought us no fulfilment.
Solomon’s clear message is that any part of our lives that does not include God will end up being completely worthless. We can argue with Solomon about this, but we are arguing with someone who has been there, done that, and drawn some very pointed conclusions. We are arguing with an expert, one who once believed that those things would satisfy.

Have you been excluding God from any part of your life? If so, that aspect of life will lack fulfilment for you until you allow God to infuse it with meaning and significance.

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Rev. E. Anderson
WITHOUT GOD?

“So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me” – Ecclesiastes 2:17

The opening salvo of the Book of Ecclesiastes finds Solomon lobbing his ammunition at the myriad elements of life that seem to promise happiness and satisfaction but always fail to deliver. He lists the false gods that many people believe will bring them a tremendous sense of fulfilment—wisdom, a full career, pleasure and wine, among others—and then states unequivocally that those people are dead wrong. Such things do not satisfy and, in fact, never can or will.

At first, Solomon’s list is little more than a litany of depressing statements and information. He hasn’t done us the favour of offering an alternative; he simply reads our minds. He defines what we think is important in life and explains how misled we are in our thinking. Finally, in Ecclesiastes 2:17—26, he offers several options-— a choice of conclusions we can reach after reading all this.

The first option is a conclusion that we could label “without God.” That is, if we pursue those things but do so without God as an integral part of the equation, then we will reach a bitter summary at the end of our lives. Without God, we come to hate life. Work becomes “grievous” (v. 17). Everything, in fact, becomes meaningless. Whatever we accumulate—not just material wealth, but also our bitter perspective on life—will be left to those who come after us. Is that what you want to leave behind?

According to Solomon, it gets worse before it gets better. Later, we’ll look at Solomon’s continuing thoughts on the futility of a life without God. And then we’ll discover a better way to live.

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Rev. E. Anderson
THE FOOLISHNESS OF WISDOM

Like the fool, the wise man too must die! Ecclesiastes 2:16
If nothing else brings satisfaction, then let’s consider something truly ridiculous. You would think that if wisdom is good and foolishness is bad, then the person who pursues wisdom has at least some measure of satisfaction in his life, while the person who pursues foolishness lives nothing but a life of grief. That seems logical. That only seems right. It certainly seems fair.

But according to Solomon, it makes no difference whether you pursue wisdom or foolishness. Why? Because the same fate overtakes the one who pursues wisdom and the one who pursues foolishness. Even though the wise man walks in some degree of light and the fool walks in complete darkness, both eventually will die. To add insult to that unfair common fate, neither the wise man nor the fool will be remembered for very long after he is gone. As Solomon says, “(In days to come both will be forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 2:16).

So does Solomon suggest that We all take the easier route and just live like fools? No. But like everything else he has said up to this point, he wants us to remember something very important: If we think that devoting a lifetime to acquiring wisdom will leave us better off than the person who lives his life as an undisciplined fool, then we are seriously mistaken.

Wisdom by itself yields no more satisfaction and meaning than its lack does. Sound depressing? It is, especially if you give up on Solomon at this point. Hang in there; he has much more to say about finding fulfilment in life.

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aaronlinford

Rev. Aaron Linford
HOW’S YOUR “STUFF” COLLECTION?
“I amassed silver and gold for myself” – Ecclesiastes 2:8
Where are you on the “stuff-collection” scale? We all love having stuff, and acquiring more things can be a daily activity. Every time we go shopping or scan the newspaper for a second home or make out our Christmas list or consider what kind of Furniture we should purchase or what model of car to get next, we are arranging our lives around all the stuff there is to possess.

Solomon was an expert at acquiring things. According to Ecclesiastes, he was not only the king of Israel, but he was also the king of possessions. He purchased slaves, owned herds, amassed silver and gold, bought entertainment, built palaces, and maintained a fleet of chariots and trading boats, among other things.

It’s interesting that Solomon never describes the amassing of material goods as a bad thing. But in this passage and elsewhere, he does say that if we think collecting things will offer any measurable sense of fulfilment, we are seriously mistaken. If our goal is possessions—finding them, buying them, and using them—then we will be sorely disappointed in what we get in return. When Solomon surveyed all that his hands had accomplished, he discovered that “everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

What Solomon says in these verses runs counter to what most people believe. But he’s insistent about it: Wisdom and knowledge aren’t fulfilling, nor are pleasure and laughter. Spending a lifetime pursuing great career goals ends up being no more meaningful than amassing huge wealth and collecting material goods. We might be tempted to dismiss a person who holds such notions as one who really doesn’t understand how the World works. But it’s very difficult to do that with Solomon. He could afford to explore it all, and he did. Now, at the end of his life, he has a message for us: None of those things——either separately or in combination with each other—give us what we so desperately want: satisfaction and meaning.

Where are you looking for fulfillment in your life? Is there a bit of the younger Solomon in you?

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