Genuine Sanctuary is found when we teach our children and grandchildren the love of reading. A thirst for books sharpens the sword that will serve them well in the battle against ignorance and dependence upon others to shape their beliefs.
Sign up for updates here or go to https://www.facebook.com/TMBrownauthor/ for list of local book events scheduled throughout the state of Georgia in the coming weeks. Also have virtual interviews forthcoming and book club offerings.
Excerpt from Sanctuary. “Just beyond the shadows of the stores and office buildings surrounding Town Square, our new neighborhood displayed a patchwork of quaint homes with manicured lawns. Most of the homes appeared fairly modest in size and offered little doubt that more than one generation raised their families in them. Mature magnolias, moss-ladened stately oaks, as well as picturesque pecan trees stood watch over the homes. The patched sidewalks and curbs reflected decades of children on bikes, mothers pushing baby carriages and couples taking a stroll. Inconspicuous narrow alleys ran behind each row of homes. Wrought iron or painted picket fencing with ornate stone or brick walkways welcomed guests to the front porches.”
‘Time crept while I stirred and tossed in futile attempts to capture any semblance of actual sleep. Capitulation arrived shortly after four when I poured a cup of coffee and sat down in the living room…Okay Lord what are you trying to share with me?’ Theo Phillips, Main character Ch 20, pg. 169
When the author used the descriptor, ‘a couple of southern minutes’, I knew I was in for a treat as main characters Theo Phillips and his wife Liddy started retirement in their new hometown of Shiloh, Georgia.
(Thank you, Linda Pifer for your extensive review. Her complete review and others will be soon published on my author web pages.)
SANCTUARY introduces newly retired publishing executive, Theo Phillips, and his wife, Liddy, to the time-lost South Georgia town of Shiloh. They leave the shadows of Atlanta and move into a quaint home of notoriety. While making new friends, they discover twenty-first-century challenges threaten the town’s laid-back lifestyle. Theo’s interest in a memorial launches him into investigating tragic events that have left Shiloh unsettled. Theo and Liddy’s retirement dreams take a turn that could unravel both them and the idyllic life they and many others look for in Shiloh.
PLEASE STOP BY FOR A SNEAK PEEK at my LinkedIn page or go to my Facebook Author page and connect for regular updates and information regarding Sanctuary’s anticipated March release. I am forever grateful to all who love Southern Fiction mysteries…
Premier book signing event will be in Sparta, GA on April 8th, home of the antebellum courthouse that was razed in 2014 and rebuilt and dedicated in 2016. Their majestic edifice provided the inspiration for the writing of the core story in Sanctuary.
April 22nd, Aiken SC “Wine and Sign” Book Event offers a great venue for Southern Fiction lovers. My wife and I look forward to participating.
Advance book orders now available leading up to April 4th launch date. All books will be signed and shipped the first week in April.
T. M. Brown, “Mike” to my friends!
T. M. Brown is a Southern boy at heart, although he’s lived and traveled in many states far removed from his beloved boyhood roots in Georgia and Florida. He returned to his Southern roots several years ago while his two sons were still in school and regularly traveled throughout the South before returning to college shortly after his youngest son graduated. In the last fifteen years he has preached, taught and coached in Alabama, Georgia and Florida until his wife and he moved outside of Atlanta and retired to write, travel, and spoil grandchildren.
Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait… Philippians 3:17-20
Many love the promise of God’s heavenly kingdom, but few are willing to bear the burden of conflict at the crossroads along the journey. Many desire comfort, but few accept the tribulation that waits beyond the crossroads. Many companions seek to dine at God’s table, but few are unwilling to fast to be closer to him. Who willingly pursues labor and hardship, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst; often lacking shelter and proper clothing to reach the heavenly destination?
Many desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to suffer for him – or with him. We quickly forget that God promised that through our suffering, our comfort awaits. Many acknowledge their weaknesses before they discover their God-given strengths. As a result, many find consolation in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in other pressures of life?
It has been given to us on behalf of Jesus not only to take heart in his example but also to struggle and suffer for and with him. However, do many understand what that means or are they merely words we claim?
Many follow the example of Jesus into the breaking of bread, seeking fellowship with him, but few willingly strive to share the cup of his suffering. Many revere and desire God’s blessings, but few choose to share in the humiliation of suffering. Many profess to love God, so long as adversities do not happen in their lives. Many praise him, so long as they receive comfort from him. However, if God abides in us and then seems to leave us for even a little while, how many start complaining or become depressed?
How powerful can our love for God be when mixed with self-interest or self-love? Those of us who love God for who God is and do not seek some personal comfort of our own – they are the few who bless God amidst the heartache, tribulation, and anguish of real life. There is no difference in their love manifested in a state of perfect comfort and peace. However, many always seek after the blessing of comfort and thus should be called a “mercenary,” because they only reveal their association with God when they receive their expected compensation. They are lovers of themselves, not God? They only desire to profit and take advantage of the relationship.
Who is willing to serve God seeking nothing in return? Is that not what God’s love with us reveals? Is that the example we learned from Jesus? It is rare that anyone becomes so spiritually disciplined that they willingly release their “white knuckle grasp” upon their worldly treasures. Consider how hard it is to find the truly poor in spirit, those free from the world’s afflictions and influences. Such a person would surrender all their material wealth and possessions as if they were nothing. This individual would still sense in their heart that all they have would never be enough. That same person would desire all knowledge and yet realize how little they know and far removed they are from ever knowing God. They may live an exemplary virtuous life and be fervently devoted, yet lack much because such a life would recognize one most necessary thing is missing. What is that one thing? Be willing to surrender everything, forsaking even ourselves. Turn completely away from our desires. Cling to nothing out of self-love. Release our “white knuckle grasp” on what pleases us and seek first and foremost God’s will, ways, and wisdom.
When we have accomplished all that needs to be done, so far as we know, and are able, consider it as having done nothing at all. At that point, we will realize that no one will be richer, no one more powerful, and no one freer because we can freely disregard all worldly things of value, humble ourselves, and rejoice in God, who exalts us with his blessings of comfort and peace.
My daily prayer: Lord God, I seek to understand the joy and discover the contentment found in knowing you for your sake, not for my sake. I rejoice in the blessings that flow from walking alongside you each day, no matter the conflict going on around me. May all I say and do honor and praise you. I lay all my worries and concerns that will affect my family and me that I have little control over. Direct my steps according to your perfect, good and pleasing will. Lord, may my life inspire my family and others to seek you to lead their lives as well. Amen
For additional reading: 2 Corinthians 1:5; 11:27; 12:10; Philippians 1:29-30; 2:21; Luke 9:14; 17:10; 18:14; 22:41-42; Mark 10:38; Matthew 16:24-25
I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far,” says the LORD, who heals them. Isaiah 57:18-19 NLT
Can we trust in the comfort that is made possible by God’s great mercy and his heavenly grace?
Whether surrounded by a large circle of right-minded, faithful friends, an abundant library of inspirational books offering beautiful prose and poems, and reassuring sweet songs and inspirational hymns keep you company, all offer but temporary relief should God’s grace depart our midst leaving us in spiritual poverty. In such times no better remedy exists than to wait patiently, remaining resolute in the pursuit of reconnecting with God’s will, ways, and wisdom. It is there where we can rediscover the comfort made possible only by God’s great mercy and his heavenly grace.
Everyone, no matter the depth or breadth of their spiritual walk, will experience times when the comfort of God’s grace wanes. Never has a saint been so highly enraptured and enlightened that they never faced temptation sooner or later. In fact, no one grows closer to God without enduring the challenges of life-changing trials and tribulation.
Temptation serves as a harbinger signaling a time of comfort is yet to come, because God promises such as a blessing upon those tested by times of trials and temptations. God’s comfort galvanizes a person’s resolve to endure the certainty of adversities in life. Also, God allows temptation to prevent us from growing proud of any good we might feel we initiated because God knows the carnal lusts and desires that remain a threat to us. We must never cease preparing ourselves for the battle at hand; our enemies continue to be all around us. However, we can find solace in the revelation that we are not alone in our times of trials and temptations that without fail will confront us. All of us must take to heart the donning of the full armor of God for the battles we must face each day. His comfort is the reward for the victory that he enables us to win when we place our trust in him alone, rather than try to fight the battles alone.
Commit our hearts unto patience to find comfort and then engage the crucible rather than pursue pleasure. Because, who in this world would refuse the joy and comfort that God has revealed, if we firmly believe that it is available to us? There is no comparison to the eternal joy and comfort available from God that this world can offer. In fact, all worldly delights and pleasure are empty, worthless, or short-lived. Whereas, the pure pleasures that come from God are pleasant, overly-abundant, free and unequaled. However, we cannot claim God’s blessings anytime we desire, he alone dispenses them according to his will.
God continually demonstrates his love for us by extending his mercy and grace though we do not deserve either, which begs the question: Why should we continue to fail to return to him our heartfelt thanksgiving, especially since trials and times of temptation will never be fully behind us in this world? Remember: Grace always accompanies those who are duly thankful, and what the humble receive always comes at the expense of the proud!
My daily prayer: Gracious Lord God, your word is truth and you have proclaimed that your grace is abundant and free to all who trust in you by faith. Please accept me as an available channel of your grace so that others may discover the same blessings that you have bestowed upon me. I recognize that I cannot continue to grow in your grace unless others around me are sharing in the abundance of grace and comfort you have afforded me. Lord, use me according to your will so I may witness your blessings upon my family because as they are comforted in your grace, I too am comforted. May your mercy and grace provide the confidence we need when temptations attack my family or me. You alone Lord win the victory! Amen
For additional reading: Luke 9:23; 14:27; 1 Timothy 4:4-5; Revelation 2:7; 2 Corinthians 12:6-7, 9; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Matthew 9:37-38; John 7:38; James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34
I am pleased to reveal the book cover my premier novel in the Shiloh Saga series of stories.
SANCTUARY introduces newly retired publishing executive, Theo Phillips, and his wife, Liddy, to the time-lost South Georgia town of Shiloh. They leave the shadows of Atlanta and move into a quaint home of notoriety. While making new friends, they discover twenty-first-century challenges threaten the town’s laid-back lifestyle. Theo’s interest in a memorial launches him into investigating tragic events that have left Shiloh unsettled. Theo and Liddy’s retirement dreams take a turn that could unravel both them and the idyllic life they and many others look for in Shiloh.
Thanks for all your support and encouragement as I have transformed my devotional thoughts into true-to-life situations that my characters in Shiloh face. My Facebook author page offers constant updates anticipating the book’s release on April 4th, and then news about the sequel, Testament, due out this fall.
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4
When we walk in harmony within ourselves, uncluttered, we will be freed to comprehend the divinely important things in life without effort, because we will receive understanding from God. Likewise, pursuing knowledge of ourselves provides the surest way to know God, as opposed to solely trusting in intellectual or academic expositions written by the wisdom of man.
God created us in the image of himself. What would it serve to consult with another image of God? Have we not a unique knowledge of our creator within each of us? Our quest to know and connect with God begins with understanding ourselves.
How can we confidently grasp what we need for life and godliness? Doesn’t the study of God’s will, ways, and wisdom contained within our particular translation of the Bible point out the futility of our efforts to try and understand the unfathomable thoughts and ways of God? However, when we accept that reality and humble ourselves, then God presents the benefit of knowing him and his godly wisdom through his whispers within our heart. From our creation, his spirit has resided within us making available to us everything we need to hear and understand. In truth, God enjoys revealing his truth to all his children, especially those who seek him with the uncluttered innocence of a child; whose soul, heart and mind are far more receptive to listening and learning about God’s will, ways, and wisdom to guide their lives. For this reason, our Heavenly Father always rejoices and smiles upon us as his children, no matter our age in life.
For those who believe we can learn about God through worldly sources and understanding, how can anyone believe that the created can know the mind of the creator? Thus, our only hope is to freely surrender our souls, hearts, and minds to the author of all knowledge and understanding. We need to trust that God’s Spirit will guide us in the thoughts and knowledge that we need to know so that we will know him for who he truly is, our Heavenly Father.
Learning for the sake of learning about worldly matters is good, but when it comes to eternal, divine, heavenly understanding and wisdom seek the author and creator directly. He alone knows best what we need to understand and to pursue in this world, so that we may enjoy this life and the life to come.
My prayer today: Heavenly Father, there remains much that I wish to learn and know about you, but I do trust by faith that your Spirit will share all that I need to know if only I will quiet the clutter and distractions in my life and just continue to listen intently to your whispers. Please allow my soul, heart, and mind to heed what I need to know and to apply to my life. May I strive daily to be worthy of humbly pursuing your will, ways, and wisdom. May I never tire of wanting to share my thirst for you with my family. May I likewise inspire others to seek a closer walk with you, my Lord and Savior so they too may discover the life-giving truth you make available to each of us. Thank you, my God and Savior. Amen
For additional reading: Deut 30:17; Isa 44:1-2; 45:9,18; 24-25; Pro 3:5-7; 13-18; 8:35; Ps 112:1-2; 128:1; Matt 16:26; John 1:18; 4:23; 2 Tim 2:15; 2 Co 3:6
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Sign up at https://coachbrownorg.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/shiloh-1-identifies-the-mayors-truck/ or https://www.facebook.com/TMBrownauthor/ and receive updates on the March release of my premier Southern Fiction mystery, Sanctuary, published by Deeds Publishing, Athens, GA. The sequel, Testament, fall 2017.
All Southern Fiction offers vivid word imagery that bring its colorful characters and time-lost settings to life in the mind’s eye of the reader. Sanctuary is no exception. Preview readers have asked where is Shiloh? Are the characters based on real people?
In addition to the Teacher being a wise man, he constantly taught the people knowledge; he weighed, explored, and arranged many proverbs. The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. The sayings of the wise are like goads, and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails. The sayings are given by one Shepherd. But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this [is for] all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil. Eccl 12:9-14 (HCSB)
Why do so many people desire to read a myriad of motivational books? Why do so many people pursue a regiment of religious writings for encouragement in their lives? What benefit is there in reading all that has been written based on various proverbs, parables, and other renown passages of wisdom? Will an end ever come to man’s attempts to expound upon, interpret, and translate all the ancient writings regarding God’s relationship with humanity?
Why do I write what I believe God has inspired me to share? Well, simply put, because, just maybe, someone else needs to hear the same message that God has placed upon my heart. Besides, I have discovered over the past decade, or so, writing and sharing my systematic Bible-based expositions, I have benefited the most! As I prayerfully pondered each passage and wrote, and often re-wrote, a relevant message, I grew closer to God. The feedback I have received has also provided affirmation and encouragement to my ongoing regiment. However, the greatest blessing has been a feeling of God’s smiling approval every so often.
Am I wise? Certainly not! There are far more knowledgeable people that have crossed my path. Am I a good teacher? Not as good as I desire to be. There are far better educators that I have met in my life. So what validation can I offer for what I have shared all these years with family, friends, and those I may never meet? The only validation that matters at theend is GOD’s inspiration and confirmation that someone might receive after reading what I have written.
Is what I have written new and unique? No! There is nothing new under the sun, as the Teacher in Ecclesiastes shared. What I merely tried to do is translate the wisdom I found in each passage into a real and relevant application for our present life circumstances. So that we all may live in a better relationship with others, in a manner pleasing to God, and reflects God’s will, ways, and wisdom.
Beyond our full and fast paced lives, at the end of all things, the wisest thing we can hope to know is that God waits patiently for us. All our actions, attitudes, and thoughts, whether spoken and written, will record how we lived our life before God.
What will be your record say about you when you stand before God? What relationships can you claim earned God’s smile?
I pray what I have been able to share with you has helped you to reflect more on your life and with all your relationships and most importantly with God as your daily guide.
So remember your Creator in the days of your youth: Before the days of adversity come, and the years approach when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; before the sun and the light are darkened, and the moon and the stars, and the clouds return after the rain; on the day when the guardians of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, the women who grind cease because they are few, and the ones who watch through the windows see dimly, and the doors at the street are shut while the sound of the mill fades; when one rises at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song grow faint. Also, they are afraid of heights and dangers on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper loses its spring, and the caper berry has no effect; for man is headed to his eternal home, and mourners will walk around in the street; before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the jar is shattered at the spring, and the wheel is broken into the well; and the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Everything is futile.” Eccl 12:1-8 (HCSB)
Most decisions about one’s relationship with God originate during one’s childhood, before the age of accountability. An innocent time before a child leaves the safety and security of their home. This fact impacted me many years ago but also continues to serve as a primary motivation for my desire to teach and write at my stage of life.
The Bible offers a strong emphasis on the proper rearing of our children. Parents have a divine mandate passed down through the ages, generation to generation, to teach their children about God. Beyond the setting of the home, parents expose their children to a church’s children or youth ministry, even though the parents may not even attend that church?
I am not declaring that everyone who has received the biblical message taught in the church will ultimately live out all the teachings they received, all the time. Each of us must travel through various stages during our life-long journey with God. Many, if not most, mature their faith as they grow beyond mere blind acceptance to a maturing, questioning of what and why we believe about God. However, each of us experiences a desire to connect with our Creator. Hopefully, we receive our initial introduction to God during our formable youth, long before the stresses of life have choked most of our receptivity to God away from us!
It is also a fact, most teenagers, especially after they leave the house, will wander testing their abilities and understandings about life for an extended period as young adults. Many will listen to others question God’s reality and existence, and hear differing opinions about the authenticity of the biblical writings in academic circles. Freedom of thought and self-understanding are important stages in each person’s life. I believe, God allows us to challenge our faith.
For those who received a solid grounding during their youth about God, the challenges in life will draw them closer to God again, with a stronger relevant understanding and conviction than ever before. I believe, the parable of the prodigal son reveals this to be true. You see, people in pursuit of all the options life affords them, sooner or later, come to the reality that no acceptable option exists beyond our faith in God. Some may try to live in denial of God, but even in fighting against the reality of God one struggles with the origin of God’s gifts in their life.
There is no greater, more unequivocal evidence regarding God’s existence than the fact people around the world believe in God. Even scientists, doctors, engineers, architects, and philosophers admit their journeys of discovery almost always conclude with them staring at God for the answers they seek about life. From a worldview, all the religions found across our planet may never fully agree about God, but they all exist because of man’s desire to connect with and understand God.
Why is this so important? In life, times of trials and tribulation will happen that will be beyond our abilities to cope and survive. They will cause each of us to acknowledge we cannot make it without our faith in God. God allows such formidable challenges to nurture our faith in God as we grow older with God. Yes, our life-long journey with God may falter from time-to-time, but, sooner or later, most all of us return to seeking out God’s will, ways, and wisdom as the cornerstone of our life. God enjoys receiving each person who realizes that life without God risks an end whereby the laughter of children fades, the colors of the seasons fail to change, the clouds become swallowed by darkness, and the wind offers no relief at our last gasp of breath. What happens next rests with God…
Darkness, by definition, is the absence of light. Absolute darkness leaves you without any reference points to stumble and bumble your way around. In the darkness, fear reigns supreme. We fear what the next step will bring. What future hope does a destination hold that we cannot identify? In the darkest days of our lives, despair, desolation, and desperation have dominion. However, even in the darkest days, God provides sufficient light to find our way. His love is so great that even when we try to hide in the darkest abyss, he reveals his light.
Any fear we hold of the light is because of the truth it may expose about our lives. Light is the truth, and though the truth may set you free, it also highlights the shortfalls and flaws of our life.
In God’s presence, there resides pure light. Thus no darkness exists. Thus every person is at dire risk when we stand exposed to the “Shekinah” glory of God – the perfect light emanating from God’s presence.
Light not only reveals, but it also purifies all that is not as pure as the light. Humanity must be exposed to the light progressively to expose and to be cleansed to leave the darkness totally behind.
It is our memory of the dark days that draws us to the light! Hope, faith, and love abound in the light, whereas fear, despair, desolation, and desperation are left behind as we walk away from the darkness of our past into the newness of the light. From out of the shadows, we leave behind isolation and separation and discover a desire for fellowship in our lives. In the light, we can always focus clearly on any number of destinations which will make us better. We will find along our journey in the light; our present outshines our past. We discover the truth that light reveals, and we thus become “wiser” with each step we take. When we leave behind even the memories of our dark days and seek after the light, we cherish our younger, more innocent days all the more as we enter into the prime of our life.
One final thought, once we have understood the value of the light, we are to share God’s gift with others. We have become God’s chosen harbingers of the truth of his light to others still residing in the shadows. We should not forget, by the light passed on by others we found our way out from the darkness. The light never to be hoarded as if it is ours exclusively. We have been given the light as a gift to share, and it will never be exhausted by sharing it with others.
Send your bread on the surface of the waters, for after many days you may find it. Give a portion to seven or even to eight, for you don’t know what disaster may happen on earth. If the clouds are full, they will pour out rain on the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or the north, the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you don’t know the path of the wind, or how bones [develop] in the womb of a pregnant woman, so you don’t know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good. Eccl 11:1-6 (HCSB)
Just as God counseled the disciples of Jesus, we too cannot stand idle waiting for what has been promised to happen someday. Just because something will happen in the future does not guarantee it will occur in the present. We must choose to live in expectation, not anticipation. We cannot forgo living in the present because of what we believe about the future. What we do in the here and now bears upon how the future unfolds. God made it very clear: He has chosen to use humankind to prepare and build his kingdom on earth until such time he unites the kingdoms of heaven and earth together. However, until then, he patiently perseveres with humanity’s capriciousness, not because of those hesitating and struggling to act as he wishes, but for those who will benefit from what will take place. God’s forbearance is for the good of all, especially those who have yet to hear and respond to ’his will, ways, and wisdom.
For those who know God but struggle in obedience to ’his will, ways, and wisdom; God disciplines those who know him, yet willfully disobey – not to punish but instruct and guide.
All will face judgment someday for how we have responded or failed to respond to God’s guidance. None of us will ever comply with his instruction entirely, yet God always works faithfully using our shortcomings to reveal his kingdom purposes. To become more obedient and responsive to his will, ways, and wisdom, we must stop anticipating the signs that will tell us his return is near. That marks all religious procrastinators who blindly seek to predict the Lord’s arrival so that they can then scurry and scramble about doing what they should have been doing all along. In the meantime, they sit, stare, and secretly hope his return stalls another day.
Those who beg the Lord’s return are tired of waiting and have feigned obedience outwardly while inwardly they struggle.
Those who have been faithful and obedient have lived in expectation, not anticipation. The faithful have chosen to live each day with a purpose, seeking to grow in obedience to God’s will, ways, and wisdom, because not only does that please God, others may be watching so that their yearning heart yearns might be filled with what we have.
Do I need to understand all the signs? No! All I need to know is God holds my future in his hands. The past is behind me and thankfully God’s forgiveness has allowed me to move beyond the past. God only holds me accountable for the choices I make in the present. If the dark clouds bring storms, so be it. Let the wind howl. I do not care from whence it came, only that I must face it. I praise God for all newborns conceived without trying to comprehend God’s miracle of creation beyond what God allows me to grasp. Daily I pray to plant a seed and do my part of witnessing its development as it prospers to the benefit of God and His Kingdom.
Am I perfect? …absolutely not! However, I am being made perfect by God’s grace. How about you?
Woe to you, land, when your king is a household servant, and your princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, land, when your king is a son of nobles and your princes feast at the proper time—for strength and not for drunkenness. Because of laziness the roof caves in, and because of negligent hands the house leaks. A feast is prepared for laughter and wine makes life happy, and money is the answer for everything. Do not curse the king even in your thoughts, and do not curse a rich person even in your bedroom, for a bird of the sky may carry the message, and a winged creature may report the matter. Eccl 10:16-20 (HCSB)
Without a doubt, the average person relates best with others who are most like them, but is that a good thing when selecting leaders to govern over us? Do we want the best qualified, or do we prefer to be able to relate to our leaders?
If you need some form of life-saving surgery, do you prefer a surgeon chosen out of your pool of friends, those most like you, or would you seek the most qualified physician?
Governors and Presidents are not meant to be our best friends, but the best-suited person to keep us secure and maintain stability for our life.
The Social Contract theory of man (research Socrates, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu) says that society is willing to give up certain personal natural liberties to protect primary overriding interests of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of property” (ergo, happiness in the Jeffersonian translation). In our willingness to submit to an approved government to govern over us, we also recognize that the best government is the one that governs the least, safeguarding our liberties the best. That balance requires competence, and yes, the vast majority of people in society lack the necessary experience and training to govern efficiently and effectively – nor are our circle of friends or family. Therefore, choose candidates for positions in government not because we like them the most or can relate to them best. The question we should ask ourselves is will we be more secure with this person(s) governing over us if elected to serve the best interests of our society?
As we look ahead to a future of hope and prosperity, we should remind ourselves: In America, the government is allowed to govern solely by the consent of the governed – that is the constitutional principle of popular sovereignty. Before we stomp our feet like petulant, spoiled brats and bad mouth those duly elected into office, let’s remember, whether we supported that person, they have been authorized by the Constitution (contract of the governed) to govern over them. Any bad mouthing serves only to discredit the will of the society which lawfully acted to identify new leaders to govern over them.
“We the people” have the final say – but before you throw a hissy fit over the outcome of the next election, remember our Social Contract based Constitution says “We the people” are sovereign in America’s society, not “me the people.”
From God’s perspective, he alone holds the right to exercise his divine sovereignty, but he chooses to do so through the hearts and minds of the people in our Nation. I pray the voice of the people will express God’s will, ways, and wisdom as they seek God’s guidance and approval for the selection of all future servant-leaders to serve the people.
For those who still feel the roof is caving in, and the breaches in the walls are crumbling all around us, and all hope feels lost, you can only blame yourselves for desiring your will, not God’s will.
The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, but the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of the words of his mouth is folly, but the end of his speaking is evil madness. Yet the fool multiplies words. No one knows what will happen, and who can tell anyone what will happen after him? The struggles of fools weary them, for they don’t know how to go to the city. Eccl 10:12-15 (HCSB)
Confusion and chaos are the destiny of those who listen and fall onto the path of the fool. So many people are susceptible to the tickling and tantalizing words that the fool seems capable of espousing. It seems most people have the struggle of selfishness within them and that stirs them to seek shortcuts and believe that there are easier ways to get ahead in life. Even when they know better, they want to believe the lies and folly of the fool who paints a picture of the better life.
Should we blame the fool and his folly, or brand ourselves as the fool whose folly is following the advice of the fool?
So how can we filter the words that flow from the lips of the fool versus the wisdom that come from the wise?
The Bible puts it this way: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. Psalms 111:10 (HCSB) This fear is utmost reverence and awe for the priority and perfection of the Lord’s guidance to mankind. Where can we get that guidance for all our life decisions? It begins by committing daily to seeking God’s will, ways, and wisdom.
Invest in the hearing, reading and meditating upon what God’s priority and perfection are, then your ears and eyes become more sensitive to the folly of fools. No matter how convincing their message sounds, the fool’s mistake is he cannot help but to keep talking. He continually attempts to reinforce and convince everyone of his twisted truth. However, when you invest in connecting with God’s encouraging word, you discover how authentic and reliable his message is for your life. God’s message is relevant to your life and without compromise. It not only points the way but also states how one is to succeed along the way he leads. When you trust the Lord, he discovers that he walks with you along the path he directs you.
Then there is the fool’s folly and his misguided ways. He gladly spouts off to all who choose to listen how awesome his way is to follow. The fool prods and goads others to walk in his folly, but he does not tag along. You see, the fool’s ways are lonely ways. When you get caught up in the fool’s folly, you find out that you have lost your way listening to the fool’s directions. Your sacred man-made GPS has its limits, faults, and shortcomings. The fool’s folly befuddles even Google maps or Garmin devices. Only God’s will, ways, and wisdom are reliable. When God leads, you will not get lost unless you choose to stop listening and trusting in the Lord’s true direction.
Who are you relying upon to guide you through the days that lie ahead in your life? The choice is yours.
There is an evil I have seen under the sun, an error proceeding from the presence of the ruler: The fool is appointed to great heights, but the rich remain in lowly positions. I have seen slaves on horses, but princes walking on the ground like slaves. The one who digs a pit may fall into it, and the one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. The one who quarries stones may be hurt by them; the one who splits trees may be endangered by them. If the axe is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength; however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success. If the snake bites before it is charmed, then there is no advantage for the charmer. Eccl 10:5-11 (HCSB)
Upside down reality reveals we are facing evil’s spin aimed to confuse and misdirect our understanding of the truth. Consider how so many people have been blinded by false narratives for the sake of change, so that fools have found their way into leadership positions and they have appointed more fools as replacements for more qualified civil servants. Once the government is secured by fools in positions of power it seeks to turn society upside down to suit their upside down reality where the poor and disadvantaged dominate the rich and successful people. Wealth is redistributed like Robin Hood – take from the rich and give to the poor – to win the hearts of the huddled masses. The days of evil are in place because social order has been turned on its head by fools who do not understand the consequences of their folly.
God has orchestrated an order for society, and whenever man attempts to usurp the natural order of things, chaos, division and dissent follow. However, God does not lose control on his natural order intended for the good of the people. When fools pursue their upside down folly, they soon discover that their schemes are but snares that entrap themselves. They are exposed as the thief taking what is not his to take and becomes the victim in the end.
Whenever anyone attempts to perform skilled work without attainting the proper skills and experience the risk for harm to themselves and others is escalated exponentially. Experience and maturity enables a person to develop as a respected and capable craftsman. If this is true, what about the more challenging leadership roles in our government. Failures and mistakes at this level impact a whole nation of people.
When looking to choose people for high offices we should make sure they are adequately experienced and qualified to perform their duties for the common good of the public, not for selfish gain or for vanity’s sake. Who would hand over a sharpened axe to an inexperienced, immature child to chop wood?
We need to realize the wisdom to choose the right people is a gift from God. Our leaders need to be humble men of God seeking God’s will, ways and wisdom. A Godly Nation thrives whenever the leadership and the people are on the same page.
As a final thought, God works his will through “the people” who hold all chosen leaders accountable and responsible. When government fails to serve the people, change occurs! What the fools have turned upside down, God through the people makes right in due time. Let us all consider God’s will, ways and wisdom before we demand change, because equally as threatening as poor leadership, demanding change for the sake of change a part from God’s will is dangerous too.
Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil ferment and stink; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart [goes] to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his heart lacks sense, and he shows everyone he is a fool. If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your place, for calmness puts great offenses to rest. Eccl 10:1-4 (HCSB)
When shopping in a farmer’s market for a bushel of apples, it is hard to realize at first glance if the bushel you are looking at contains a bad apple that could infect the others. If you do not take the time to inspect all the apples, there is the chance one bad apple could become a host of bad apples in no time.
The same is true in a group of people – it only takes one ‘bad apple’ to harm others. The ‘bad apple’ can disguise himself and blend in among the others, but sooner or later he begins to unveil his miscreant nature.
Because it is the natural instinct within mankind to follow (guess that’s why we are identified so often as sheep), there resides in our nature a constant risk of choosing the wrong leader to follow. However, time unmasks the folly of the fool, and those who have blindly followed him begin to wake up to their precarious state unless they change leadership and dismiss the fool’s folly for others to see.
So choose wisely the leaders you choose to follow. Even if you discover the error of the choice at some later time, a price will be paid for the time you followed the fool. Just a short exposure to the ‘bad apple’ puts a ‘good apple’ at risk.
What can we do? When you are at the farmer’s market selecting apples, reminders of past experiences discovering ‘bad apples’ will guide you to root out even one bad apple from the bushel of apples you decide to bring home.
The same is true in life. The closer we are to God’s will, ways, and wisdom, the more likely we are to recognize the ‘bad apples’ who are opposed to following anyone else’s way of life except their own, their own selfish folly. Whenever anyone claims to be a leader with all the answers: RUN!
We may strive to become wiser and more mature, but we will never be fully wise or fully mature. Those who believe they are all-wise and mature become their own god. The wise man realizes the wiser we become, the more dependent we become to pursuing God and following him alone. When we reach that point in our life, God helps us identify the ‘bad apples’ to avoid their folly.
How careful are you about sorting out the “bad apples’ from the ‘good apples’?
I have observed that this also is wisdom under the sun, and it is significant to me: There was a small city with few men in it. A great king came against it, surrounded it, and built large siege works against it. Now a poor wise man was found in the city, and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. And I said, “Wisdom is better than strength, but the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are not heeded.” The calm words of the wise are heeded more than the shouts of a ruler over fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much good. Eccl 9:13-18 (HCSB)
We call them geeks, nerds, even eggheads, but our lives are better because of those who have the gift of wisdom. We are jealous of their unique gifts, yet all benefit from their impact upon our lives. However, our selfishness fails to appreciate them enough to remember or, at the least, acknowledge their accomplishments.
In the above passage, a single insignificant, behind-the-scenes, wise geek finds a way to defeat the enemy who laid siege to his city. The victory went to the small city, thanks to this geek, but no one acknowledged his contribution to the victory. He was quickly forgotten as the people went back to self-focused living.
Wisdom cannot be bought or created by human endeavor. Either you have received the gift of wisdom from God or you rely upon the wisdom of God from others who have the gift. Such reliance upon others though causes us to be resentful and jealous. But we all should be warned: It only takes one wicked, thoughtless person to wreck the good deeds of the wise.
Why do we envy what God has obviously dispensed for his greater good to be accomplished? When we resent and reject those with such talents, aren’t we mocking God? When a gifted person crosses our path are we thankful for the opportunity, or jealous that we cannot be as gifted?
Examine yourself and everyone around you. Discover the mosaic collage of uniquely talented and gifted people that God has provided to complement your shortcomings and strengths. No one person is fully capable of having all the gifts and talents to survive in this world alone. We all need to rely upon others to be successful in this lifetime. Do not be jealous of what others have, but discover your own giftedness and give freely of what you have to others, as they should likewise do. Seek God’s will, ways, and wisdom and discover how God desires to use you to continue to build his kingdom on earth. Will you choose to connect and collaborate, or turn others away and stumble through life on your own?
Again I saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, or bread to the wise, or riches to the discerning, or favor to the skillful; rather, time and chance happen to all of them. For man certainly does not know his time: like fish caught in a cruel net, or like birds caught in a trap, so people are trapped in an evil time, as it suddenly falls on them. Eccl 9:11-12 (HCSB)
Why is it that good people experience tough times? Why does evil find its way to good and very talented people? What is God’s purpose for the presence of evil in everyone’s life at one time or another? What if we were able to outrun or overcome evil through own strength; be sufficiently wise enough to not stumble into evil’s trap; be rich enough to pay the ransom on our own to remove evil’s effects upon our life; be so skilled that we could out-maneuver evil’s wily schemes, would we still fall prey to the temptations that evil lays out for us in the choices we make throughout life?
It is clear, God has allowed evil to use time and opportunity for its wicked purposes to test and try the soul of man. Evil’s broad net entraps the best of man along with the least of us equally. When it is evil’s time to spring upon us, there is nothing but a our faith to deliver us from the foreboding times of tribulation that evil intends to put its through. Only an unshakable faith in God’s goodness can protect and thwart evil’s diabolical plans that can cause even the most prepared soul to stumble.
Consider the story of Job in God’s Word, he was a man who sought to please God in all he did and yet God allowed evil to have its way to test Job’s faith.
What are you unwilling to surrender that may cause your faith to falter in a time of testing and temptation? Would it be held so dear that you would risk setting your faith in God aside to protect what you claim as your own in this lifetime?
Job declared that even if evil took his life, he would never surrender his faith in God. When he sat alone and felt he had lost everything and even questioned his relationship with God, God intervened and rewarded Job; everything he had lost God replaced, plus more.
We all have a choice when evil finds it way onto our path: (1) try to fight it in our own strength, wisdom, skill, wealth and face the consequences alone; or (2) seek God’s will, ways, and wisdom and stand fast in the face of evil’s efforts, placing our faith in God’s goodness and promises. Psychologists agree, there are two innate responses when we are confronted by evil – fight or flee. But, I suggest one more, stand fast, anchored by faith. Evil desires each of us to quit the fight and admit we cannot flee what we cannot outrun or outmaneuver. At that point evil wins. The moment we choose to stand firm trusting God, evil cannot win. Enjoy the fruits of strength, wealth, wisdom and talent, but remember they are God’s gifts and are never as powerful as your faith in God when confronting evil. No one can ever be their own savior inmate fight against evil.
Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun. Whatever your hands find to do, do with [all] your strength, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. Eccl 9:7-10 (HCSB)
Sheol to the Hebrews, especially in days of Solomon, represented the destination for the dead – both the wicked and the righteous. God reigned as Lord over Sheol and the dead could be ransomed from the grave where darkness and nothingness swallowed all hope. However, we are encouraged to realize that God knows the condition of our heart, soul and mind so intimately our future destiny is pre-determined.
Because of God’s omniscience, we are encouraged to rejoice during our present lifetime. Celebrate in our limited days anticipating our future destiny. We are either celebrating the expectant joy of being ransomed by God into his dwelling place, or condemned to eternal darkness and separation from God. Either way, celebrate now while you can. Take joy in our marriage, our family, and even our career. Take nothing for granted and embrace every opportunity to enjoy life’s pleasures. Not an excuse for hedonistic pleasure but a plea to not waste the gift of life in the present, because no one knows when their life will end. Our destiny is in God’s hands, whether for good or bad.
Since the days of Jesus, mankind has learned God’s message of love, mercy and justice. Jesus revealed God’s will, ways, and wisdom alone – and not our will, ways or wisdom – offers eternal life with him to all who acknowledge this fact. Sheol has no hold on us in the present; we have the ever-present God, our heavenly Father, as shared and exemplified by Jesus.
We certainly have good reason to celebrate life to the fullest, enjoying to the fullest the light of his way, truth and life.
Was Solomon saved? I don’t know, but you can know about your destiny…
Different Routes, Same Destination, Not Same Destiny
Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: the righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands. People don’t know whether [to expect] love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. Everything is the same for everyone: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner, as for the one who takes an oath, so for the one who fears an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: there is one fate for everyone. In addition, the hearts of people are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live—after that they go to the dead. But there is hope for whoever is joined with all the living, since a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything. There is no longer a reward for them because the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate, and their envy have already disappeared, and there is no longer a portion for them in all that is done under the sun. Eccl 9:1-6 (HCSB)
In this lifetime, both love and hate will impact our lives. We cannot control when or why either will cross our path. God purposes both love and hate to shape and mold, to enlighten and guide the course of our days under the sun, because in the end of our days, no matter how we dealt with the various love and hate challenges in our life, we all share the same destination, regardless of whether we chose for good or bad motives. It matters not whether love or hate prevailed, whether we chose the route of obedience or disobedience, or we pursued the fulfillment of promises made or we turned our back and rejected them. All our unique paths through life arrive at the same destination – the same finish line. Death waits for all without exclusion.
Our days under the sun are designed by God to help us distinguish between good versus bad; love versus hate; clean versus unclean; obedience versus disobedience; truth versus ignorance; faith versus foolishness. God introduces us into this world with the same opportunities to experience, learn and mature, because God loves each of us equally and without partiality. God even perseveres through the folly of our choices that define our routes along the journey of life, because God desires all of us to experience and understand the high price for selfish behaviors.
Until we reach the finish line marking the end of our days, God encourages and inspires everyone with the same desire for us to discover the love and truth that we can embrace by seeking God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Our daily pursuit of God reveals that at the end of our days one final destination awaits, but it marks the beginning of two bifurcating destinies – one destiny is marked “dead on arrival”; the other “resurrected to the eternal life”.
We all have the right to choose between the different routes through our lifetime, and yes, we all arrive at the same destination, but God says that destination does not offer the same eternal destiny.
There is a futility that is done on the earth: there are righteous people who get what the actions of the wicked deserve, and there are wicked people who get what the actions of the righteous deserve. I say that this too is futile. So I commended enjoyment, because there is nothing better for man under the sun except to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the years of his days that God gives him under the sun. When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the activity that is done on the earth (even though one’s eyes do not close in sleep day or night), I observed all the work of God [and concluded] that man is unable to discover the work that is done under the sun. Even though a man labors hard to explore it, he cannot find it; even if the wise man claims to know it, he is unable to discover it. Eccl 8:14-17 (HCSB)
What a tragedy when we perceive justice from our personal perspective. Bad things happen to seemingly good people, innocent people, while bad people appear to have only good things happen to them. Why does it seem the world is turned upside down with the distribution of just rewards? Is it merely a matter of personal perspective because, none of us are able to discern God’s motives for how justice is dispensed? Who understands the mind of God, his purposes and plans?
This explains the Teacher’s message: There is nothing better for man under the sun except to eat, drink, and enjoy himself. Life is a matter of personal perspective to justify what we witness under the sun.
I believe, we must accept what we alone are responsible for and not fret over the choices and consequences of others. Humility demands that we accept the reality that in life there will be those individuals who seemingly are rewarded unfairly even when their rewards do not seem just in our eyes. Why? Because, we must not be jealous for what happens to others. If we truly place our faith in God’s justice and mercy, should there be any reason for envy or criticism? In this lifetime we are not meant to understand all that happens from our perspective. Though we may pray for understanding, why God dispenses his mercy and justice remains abstract. The only ultimate goal of seeking wisdom in this lifetime is that we may realize that we will never know all there is to know. In that simple fact resides the most valuable piece of wisdom we can achieve in this lifetime, which defines true humility.
Remember, in the end of all things we will only be held accountable to God for how we responded to what he allowed us to experience under the sun. We will not be held accountable for how others responded or what rewards we perceived they received. Our attitude and actions must be directed by God’s will, ways, and his wisdom alone. Our prayers must not be to seek justice or mercy for the lives of others, but to understand how we must respond to what we clearly will never fully understand. God’s perspective is beyond our perspective. Ultimately, our faith should declare God’s good and perfect purpose prevails even when we perceive injustice being doled out upon the innocent or mercy and compassion upon the guilty.
Pray only for peace regarding such concerns so that you may humbly live out your days under the sun, able to perceive what matters most: Our personal relationship with God, and leave the rest up to Him.
Who is like the wise person, and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom brightens his face, and the sternness of his face is changed…For every activity there is a right time and procedure, even though man’s troubles are heavy on him. Yet no one knows what will happen, because who can tell him what will happen? No one has authority over the wind to restrain it, and there is no authority over the day of death; there is no furlough in battle, and wickedness will not allow those who practice it to escape. All this I have seen, applying my mind to all the work that is done under the sun, at a time when one man has authority over another to his harm. In such circumstances, I saw the wicked buried…This too is futile. (excerpted from Eccl 8:1-13 (HCSB)
We shall never fully understand all the reasons under the sun why some evil people seem to prosper while innocent people suffer. Yet, God’s wisdom teaches us to be patient, to persevere, and to persist in the face of such futility because wisdom is not dispensed like candy from a vending machine or doled out like a side dish in a buffet line. God alone has sovereignty over wisdom and the dispensing of it to each person.
I believe there are times and reasons when God guards us by withholding wisdom on certain matters, because we would fail to comprehend God’s greater purpose(s) that allows evil to exist. Whenever wickedness or calamities appear to thwart God’s purposes, God reveals his mercy and compassion amidst the ashes and rubble.
Arrogant, self-aggrandizing authority figures abound, but God has allowed them to rule for a season of time for His grand purpose which leads to our greater good. Therefore, while they flaunt their power and authority, we are told to prayerfully persevere under their tyrannical yoke, because in God’s promises we will witness His blessings by remaining faithful. His wisdom will destroy the chains that bind us. There will always be wicked who walk among us, but they will discover in God’s timing that they cannot escape Scot-free their self-serving attitudes and actions. They will be held accountable, and despite their best efforts, God’s justice will not be forestalled or softened.
The faithful pursue God’s will, ways, and discover the wisdom needed to recognize the wrong and wicked ways of this world, and receive the patience and endurance to persevere through all their difficult and disastrous times. Christian courage enables the faithful to walk in this world recognizing the existence of evil and that bad things happen to innocent people. For a season, bad people may appear to get away with their wicked schemes, but in the midst of those horrendous times, God reveals sufficient wisdom to destroy the chains that bind us to ignorance and fear.
Without darkness and evil that lurks within, how would we know the sovereignty of God’s light and goodness? There resides the beginning of Godly wisdom for us to thrive in this unpredictable and imperfect world.
I have tested all this by wisdom. I resolved, “I will be wise,” but it was beyond me. What exists is beyond [reach] and very deep. Who can discover it? I turned my thoughts to know, explore, and seek wisdom and an explanation [for things], and to know that wickedness is stupidity and folly is madness. And I find more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, her heart a net, and her hands chains. The one who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner will be captured by her. “Look,” says the Teacher, “this I have discovered, by adding one thing to another to find out the explanation, which my soul continually searches for but does not find: among a thousand [people] I have found one [true] man, but among all these I have not found a true woman. Only see this: I have discovered that God made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.” Eccl 7:23-29 (HCSB)
The pursuit of wisdom is an arduous journey. The more we grasp, the more we realize how short our reach remains from obtaining it. If only we could grasp enough of it to recognize the fault of our own wickedness and the price of stupidity it brings upon us.
The ultimate test for a man who claims to be wise and the envy of others is his reputation with women. When man lustfully pursues a woman, it is the pursuit, not the woman herself, that ensnares the man. A wise professor once told me that when a man and woman establish an intimate relationship, a chemical connection begins that outlasts their lifetimes, even though the two ventured onto separate paths. A man will remember vividly each woman he has encountered, given the right circumstances. That is an interesting trait that marks our life full of relationships, however many of those memories come with regrets and consequences.
Are women wicked? Are they to blame for man’s wickedness and stupidity? Why do proverbs identify sin as a temptress? Proverbs and Ecclesiastes both were likely written by a man who felt the need to lust after what he could never possess – the love of the women he lusted after in life.
Women are not some wicked temptress and at fault for man’s lustful desires. The temptress resides in man’s own sinful, lustful heart. Just as wisdom is always beyond our reach, so too is the satisfaction of man’s lust for women. However, the pursuit of wisdom helps us to recognize that our insatiable lust for wisdom, wealth or women is for selfish purposes.
Our only hope and not be at fault is found in pursuing God’s will, ways, and wisdom so that we can learn to love and appreciate others rightly, and break the shackles of lust that imprison us. Lust is the seed of sin that tempts all mankind. Men beware! Do not blame women for our sinful wanderings that when left unchecked destroy all the relationships we claim to cherish most.
Wisdom makes the wise man stronger than ten rulers of a city. There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does “good” and never sins. Don’t pay attention to everything people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; for you know that many times you yourself have cursed others. Eccl 7:19-22 (HCSB)
Wisdom exceeds knowledge. Wisdom acknowledges our limits, especially when interacting with others. Wisdom knows the power of silence. Wisdom pursues honesty rather than applause. Wisdom pursues a humility nurtured in the honesty of imperfections and shortcomings.
Wisdom is a powerful, God-given gift accessible to all. However, it can never be fully acquired in one’s lifetime. In fact, to some degree we all have acquired a measure of wisdom. Even the fool stumbled across a bit of wisdom along his bumbling ways, just not enough to recognize what he still lacks, but enough to believe he has attained it.
The fruit of wisdom is honesty and humility. Therefore, the more wisdom one acquires, the more one is inspired to pursue it. In the pursuit of wisdom, goodness and sin, right ands wrong, righteousness and evil, co-exist to expose the other. The further one pursues wisdom, the more one understands the eternal value of honesty and humility that wisdom reveals, because apart from God’s forgiveness, only a fool claims to be righteous on their own.
Have you invested time each day pursuing God’s will, ways, and wisdom? How can you know if you are becoming wiser? Do the attitudes and actions of others affect you like they used to? Are you embracing honesty and humility? Finally, whose approval and applause do you seek? The wise person seeks first and foremost the acclamation from the author of wisdom, because in the end our relationship with God matters. But, wisdom also reveals that along the journey of life, we reveal our honesty and humility before others God sends our way. He does not hold us responsible for how others relate to us, rather how we relate to them. God offers each of us with the wisdom we need in even the most difficult relationships and circumstances of life, because through them we discover honesty inspires humility in the truly wise.
In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: without question, God has made the one as well as the other, so that man cannot discover anything that will come after him. In my futile life I have seen everything: there is a righteous man who perishes in spite of his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in spite of his evil. Don’t be excessively righteous, and don’t be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Don’t be excessively wicked, and don’t be foolish. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp the one and do not let the other slip from your hand. For the one who fears God will end up with both of them. Eccl 7:14-18 (HCSB)
At the extremes, life and death book end the span of time we have on earth. As disconcerting as our limited time may sound, God walks beside us every step of our sojourn on earth. And, if we believe that to be true, how can we believe that at any time God is not involved in our lives? Could we ever consider ourselves that good, that righteous, that we could walk apart from God’s presence? Conversely, could we ever consider ourselves that wicked, that evil, that we would walk alone apart from God’s presence?
At what extreme of goodness or wickedness would God, our Creator, consider his mission at an end with any of us?
God uses adversity and prosperity in shaping and molding us. He allows us to experience the consequences of right and wrong choices in life, so that we will be able to decide for ourselves the value of our relationship with God.
I believe that the story about Adam and Eve reveals a truth about God’s relationship with man: God desires man and woman to choose through their free will the way in life they should go, and to do so, God allowed us to know the difference between good and evil. If we only knew “good,” how would we be able to choose between what is good and evil?How can we know love if they do not understand hate?
“Good News!” — God never desires us to exist in either extreme of life. Our lives experience the fullness and awareness of godly living between the extremes of absolute goodness and wickedness. How else can we best comprehend the choices and consequences we face throughout the journey of life? God also allows us to taste life without his presence at the extremes so that we can value life embracing his presence.
Choices, whether encroaching upon the good or the wicked extremes within us, God remains with us, whether we acknowledge him or not. His love for us wanes no less because we refuse his presence. We cannot dismiss our Creator, nor will he give up on his creation until death’s door opens. There God will ask, “Your way or my way?” Who can stand before God claiming to be so righteous or so wicked that they are beyond God’s care? Who would choose separation from God and dismiss God love for eternity? That choice defines Hell! There only the extremes dwell absent from the light, love, and laughter that God offers.
God demonstrates his love for each of us through both the good and the bad times, through all the life and death decisions we face. How might we know what’s the right choice? Seek first God’s will, ways and wisdom, and he will walk you through the decision-making process and guide you from the extremes of life.