Sharpen Your Ax

Axe-sharpener

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 9 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 9 – 10; Psalms 126 – 130; Proverbs 27)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “0727 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.” – (Ecclesiastes 10:10)

I have been enjoying this devotional reading of the Book of Ecclesiastes as there are so many nuggets of truth. I actually had a hard time deciding what to post this this morning. I had considered doing something on Ecclesiastes 9:11, or 10:1. A couple of years back, I wrote “The Bottom Line”, from chapter 12. The verse above, however, is one of the most helpful truths in the Bible for me. You see, I am not the sharpest ax in the shed, and I need to be sharpened constantly in order to do what God has called me to do.

Solomon says that if a man does not “whet the edge”, he will have to add a little strength in order to be able to accomplish the goal. Whetting (or sharpening) the edge allowed the blade to penetrate deeper into the wood with less strength. It helps accomplish the goal without as much effort. Solomon is using this illustration to teach us about life. At the end of the verse he says that wisdom is profitable to direct. Acquiring wisdom is like sharpening the axe or whetting the edge. It will help you do the job with less difficulty.

God has given us a lot of things to do in life. In order to accomplish the things that the Lord has for us, we will need to acquire some wisdom. Wisdom makes us more proficient and helps us to accomplish the tasks at hand. God says that He will give us the wisdom that we need if we simply ask for it in faith.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – (James 1:5)

We can get God’s wisdom from the Word of God; through prayer; and from the counsel of those who are wise.

I do not think that God is minimizing, or belittling the value of hard work, either. There are a lot of things that I find myself doing where I am perhaps not as wise as someone else. In these situations I will have to work a little harder than that person, but I can still accomplish the goal. However, if I am going to be the best that I can be at all that God has given me to do. I will need to ask for wisdom. I need His wisdom to be a good husband and father. I need wisdom in order to pastor the people of God at the church. I need wisdom for every task that I perform, and so do you. Work hard, but if you want to get the most out of each swing, you will want to sharpen your axe.


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Promises, Promises

 

Handshake

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 5 – 8 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8; Psalms 120 – 125; Proverbs 26)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0726 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “We Talk Too Much

“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” – (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)

Back when my grandfather was a young man, a man could get a loan simply by promising with a handshake that he would pay it back. People in those days kept their word. They followed through on what they said they would do. Today it is much different. Many people today are not at all trustworthy. They are quick to promise, but often slow to keep their word. God says here in our passage this morning that we should be slow to make promises, but once a promise is made, we should do everything we can to keep it.

I want to encourage all of you that are reading this thought this morning to think (and pray) very carefully before you commit yourself to something. Don’t let pressure or emotion cause you to agree to do something that you may not be able to fulfill. I remember years ago I gave a pledge in January that I would give a certain amount of money per week toward that year’s faith promise missions offering. I was making good money at the time, and I did not think that there would be any problems. However, later that year, my family and I packed up to move to Texas to go to Bible College. I was no longer in a financial position to keep that committment, but I had made a promise, and I knew our church’s missions program was depending on that offering. Cindy and I agreed that we should sacrifice some things in order to fulfill our pledge. I haven’t always kept my promises in life, but I am very glad I kept that one.

Today we live in a world that is lacking basic trust, and the reason we don’t trust one another is that we do not keep our word. We say one thing and do another. We make promises to people and to God that may be well meaning, but ultimately we fail to follow through. Let’s stop making promises that we can’t keep. And when we do give our word, let’s keep it.


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All Is Vanity

Ecclesiastes 12-13 Fear God And Keep His Commandments beige

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6; Psalm 119; Proverbs 25)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0725 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” – (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

A few years back I preached a series of messages through the Book of Ecclesiastes at our church, so I have had the advantage of giving these passages a little more thought than perhaps I would normally give one of our morning devotions. As I have told our church many times, there are three keys to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes:

1 There is a key word – “vanity” – It literally means vapor or breath. It means emptiness. James said that our lives were like a vapour.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – (James 4:14)

This key word appears 27 times in the Book. It carries with it the idea that much of what this life has to offer ultimately is empty in itself, or will lead to emptiness. God wants us to have an abundant, fulfilling life.

2 There is a key phrase – “under the sun” – This phrase appears 33 times in the Book. It speaks of the things that are of this earth. Things that are temporary in nature, not eternal. Things that are “under the sun” are not necesarily evil things, they are just things that will be forgotten, and are without eternal value.

3 There is a key verse:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Solomon came to the conclusion that much of what is done by man “under the sun” are things that are in themselves “vanity”: they produce emptiness. Therefore, we should devote as much time and energy as possible to the things that are eternal: things that will last forever. Fearing God and keeping His commandments are the highest order of business for the child of God today. Though it is certainly not wrong to enjoy the lawful things of this earth, it is important for us to keep in mind that they are temporary, not eternal; so our primary focus should be on eternity – living for the Lord.

One more thing. It might help us to remember that the human author of this book is Solomon, a man who experienced everything that this world had to offer. He had wisdom, wealth, works, and lots of women; but none of those things brought any lasting value. Only the things that were done for the Lord followed him into eternity.


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All Is Vanity

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6Psalm 119Proverbs 25)

Scripture Memorization for June – Great Commission Verses

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read a great article by Brother John Goetsch – “Uncola Christianity – 7 Ingredients To Add To Your Faith

Read the “0725 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” – (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I have recently preached a series of messages through the Book of Ecclesiastes at our church, so I have had the advantage of giving these passages a little more thought than perhaps I would normally give one of our morning devotions. As I have told our church many times, there are three keys to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes:

1  There is a key word – “vanity” – It literally means vapor or breath. It means emptiness. James said that our lives were like a vapour.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – (James 4:14)

This key word appears 27 times in the Book. It carries with it the idea that much of what this life has to offer ultimately is empty in itself, or will lead to emptiness. God wants us to have an Cialis abundant, fulfilling life.

2  There is a key phrase – “under the sun” – This phrase appears 33 times in the Book. It speaks of the things that are of this earth. Things that are temporary in nature, not eternal. Things that are “under the sun” are not necesarily evil things, they are just things that will be forgotten, and are without eternal value.

3  There is a key verse:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Solomon came to the conclusion that much of what is done by man “under the sun” are things that are in themselves “vanity”: they produce emptiness. Therefore, we should devote as much time and energy as possible to the things that are eternal: things that will last forever. Fearing God and keeping His commandments are the highest order of business for the child of God today. Though it is certainly not wrong to enjoy the lawful things of this earth, it is important for us to keep in mind that they are temporary, not eternal; so our primary focus should be on eternity – living for the Lord.

One more thing. It might help us to remember that the human author of this book is Solomon, a man who experienced everything that this world had to offer. He had widom, wealth, works, and lots of women; but none of those things brought any lasting value. Only the things that were done for the Lord followed him into eternity.



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Sharpen Your Ax

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 9 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 9 – 10Psalms 126 – 130Proverbs 27)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

“If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.” – (Ecclesiastes 10:10)

I have been enjoying this devotional reading of the Book of Ecclesiastes as there are so many nuggets of truth. I actually had a hard time deciding what to post this this morning. I had considered doing something on Ecclesiastes 9:11, or 10:1. A couple of years back, I wrote “The Bottom Line”, from chapter 12. The verse above, however, is one of the most helpful truths in the Bible for me. You see, I am not the sharpest ax in the shed, and I need to be sharpened constantly in order to do what God has called me to do.

Solomon says that if a man does not “whet the edge”, he will have to add a little strength in order to be able to accomplish the goal. Whetting (or sharpening) the edge allowed the blade to penetrate deeper into the wood with less strength. It helps accomplish the goal without as much effort. Solomon is using this illustration to teach us about life. At the end of the verse he says that wisdom is profitable to direct. Acquiring wisdom is like sharpening the axe or whetting the edge. It will help you do the job with less difficulty.

God has given us a lot of things to do in life. In order to accomplish the things that the Lord has for us, we will need to acquire some wisdom. Wisdom makes us more proficient and helps us to accomplish the tasks at hand. God says that He will give us the wisdom that we need if we simply ask for it in faith.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” – (James 1:5)

We can get God’s wisdom from the Word of God; through prayer; and from the counsel of those who are wise.

I do not think that God is minimizing, or belittling the value of hard work, either. There are a lot of things that I find myself doing where I am perhaps not as wise as someone else. In these situations I will have to work a little harder than that person, but  I can still accomplish the goal.  However, if I am going to be the best that I can be at all that God has given me to do. I will need to ask for wisdom. I need His wisdom to be a good husband and father. I need wisdom in order to pastor the people of God at the church. I need wisdom for every task that I perform, and so do you. Work hard, but if you want to get the most out of each swing, you will want to sharpen your axe.


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We Talk Too Much

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 5 – 8 

(Second Milers also read – Luke 7 – 8; Psalms 121 – 125; Proverbs 26)

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

We did not have to read long this morning to find a very simple and practical truth from the Word of God. The verses above deal with our words, but particularly in the context of the words that we say in the house of God. Notice the Scripture is clear that we are to be more ready to hear than to hear than to speak, especially when it comes to speaking to God. I think the next few verses (vs. 4 – 7) shed a little bit more light on the context of this passage. We need to be very careful about the things that we vow to God. Last year’s post – “Promises, Promises” – dealt specifically with the subject of vows.

This morning, however, I want to think more about the tendency that we have to alk too much. There are so many verses in the Scripture that teach us regarding the use of our words. I will not take the time to list all of them here. I am sure that most us are pretty familiar with them, anyway. But I do want us to be challenged to be careful about what we say. Much of what comes out of our mouths is useless drivel, not really profitable for anything. I am not saying that there is not a place for small talk and pleasantries; but I do thing more thought should be given to what we say.

Here are some things that we should think about before we open our mouths:

1  Will it be profitable to those we are addressing, building them up?

2  Will it glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, or are we attempting to lift up ourselves?  I find that many of us like to talk about ourselves, and say things that make ourselves look good.

3  Will it hurt those that we are speaking too? I understand that we need to speak the truth in love, but our motivation ought not be to hurt people, but rather to help them.

There are many things that I would like to say regarding this, but it would be a violation of the principle. Let the Word of God speak for itself, and let our words be few, unless we are sure that we are actually saying things that God would be pleased with.


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All Is Vanity

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6Psalms 116 – 120Proverbs 25)

Scripture Memory for July – Hebrews 1

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” – (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I have recently preached a series of messages through the Book of Ecclesiastes at our church, so I have had the advantage of giving these passages a little more thought than perhaps I would normally give one of our morning devotions. As I have told our church many times, there are three keys to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes:

1  There is a key word – “vanity” – It literally means vapor or breath. It means emptiness. James said that our lives were like a vapour.

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” – (James 4:14)

This key word appears 27 times in the Book. It carries with it the idea that much of what this life has to offer ultimately is empty in itself, or will lead to emptiness. God wants us to have an abundant, fulfilling life.

2  There is a key phrase – “under the sun” – This phrase appears 33 times in the Book. It speaks of the things that are of this earth. Things that are temporary in nature, not eternal. Things that are “under the sun” are not necesarily evil things, they are just things that will be forgotten, and are without eternal value.

3  There is a key verse:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” – (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Solomon came to the conclusion that much of what is done by man “under the sun” are things that are in themselves “vanity”: they produce emptiness. Therefore, we should devote as much time and energy as possible to the things that are eternal: things that will last forever. Fearing God and keeping His commandments are the highest order of business for the child of God today. Though it is certainly not wrong to enjoy the lawful things of this earth, it is important for us to keep in mind that they are temporary, not eternal; so our primary focus should be on eternity – living for the Lord.

One more thing. It might help us to remember that the human author of this book is Solomon, a man who experienced everything that this world had to offer. He had widom, wealth, works, and lots of women; but none of those things brought any lasting value. Only the things that were done for the Lord followed him into eternity.


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The Bottom Line

Today’s Passage – Ecclesiastes 7 – 12

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

When Solomon was at the end of his life after he got finished with all of his thinking, all of his philosophies, all of his experiments and studies; he came to one conclusion: it is man’s duty to fear the Lord. When your life is over, much of what you lived for will matter. The pleasures you pursued; the wealth you accumulated; the relationships you nurtured; the power and prestige that you attained; none of it will matter. What will matter, however, is whether or not you fulfilled the will of God for your life. You and I are here on this earth for a purpose, which is glorifying God and fulfilling His Great Commission. I like what Missionary Kevin Conner said at our church a few months back. He said, “Everything you do for God you could do better in Heaven, with the exception of winning people to the Lord Jesus”. That’s a true statement. I could certainly study Him better, and pray to Him better if I were in His presence; but He left me here on this earth to serve people for Him. My job is to allow Him to live through me in order to impact the lives of those around me.

In another month, I will be 46 years old. I am well over half way through with my time here on the earth. I have wasted a lot of my time in the past on meaningless pursuits, but I desire to be used of Him to the fullest in my remaining years. I want God to get all of me. I want to live my life as yielded as I possibly can to His will.

The Bottom Line is that time is running out. The Bottom Line is that I will spend eternity either rejoicing over what was accomplished for His glory; or regretting what was accomplished for mine. The conclusion of the whole matter – fear God – live for Him – obey Him.


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