6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Mat 24:)
16I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. (Eccl 1:)
Solomon began using his wisdom for the good. He built the Temple of God and expanded his nation.
Then this wisest of men, like a ball thrown into the air, turned and crashed to the ground in failure. And what Solomon had failed to fail at in his life, his sons after him succeeded to accomplish. They split the nation, destroyed the empire, and turned to other gods.
Why did Solomon fail so miserably? Unlike his father, David, who lived a life on the edge, fighting for his life; Solomon had the ultimate handed to him on a silver platter. He had not learned to do without, to struggle, to hope, to dream, and to work for what he wanted.
Solomon was busy seeking ways to put into clever words and phrases a different way to express the obvious. Proverbs are like poems in that they tell us in pretty words what we already know, but we didn't know how to express it. We find this with music as well. The song that best describes how we feel at the time is the one we listen to over and over. Music does not bring us out of a mood (unless we play music that counters the mood we're in), nor do proverbs teach us wisdom. Proverbs only give us a way to express what we're thinking. Had Solomon spent his time analyzing himself to see how he didn't fit what he was teaching, he might not have made so many fatal errors.
"Making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." This is an odd thing for a writer and a teacher to say, don't you think? What did this wise man mean? Surely he must not be saying we shouldn't read and study, otherwise why is he bothering to write his words? We have to keep in mind that Solomon is discovering that just knowing something, which is the state he is growing out of, is not sufficient to better one's life. Paul instructs Timothy on this matter and restates Solomon's words in a manner we might better understand. He says:
3But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?....... Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition...... 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Mat 15:)
2 The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. (Mat 23:)
Paul taught us that reading books is not enough, we have to do what we learn. He elaborates on his statement with these words of wisdom:
14Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.....19Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity........ 23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2Tim 2:)
28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (1Cor 11:)
5Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2Cor 13:)
17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:)
We, you and I (or at least I have to admit this is true of me) try to avoid accountability. We feel independent and that no one can tell us what to do. This attitude places us in a dangerous position, both as human beings, and especially as Christians. This nature is part of our inheritance from Adam, the first to feel he was above having to be accountable to God.
16Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:)
We're not to pretend that we're perfect and that we're above needing help. We're to confess our faults to one another. We're to be accountable to one another. And the higher a person is in any society, this especially holds true of the Church, the more accountable he or she is, not only for their own actions, but for the actions of those beneath them as well.
I consider myself as one who examines himself closely. I'm not good at correcting what I see, but because of circumstances beyond my control, I have been placed in a position where I had to scrutinize myself closely. I've tried to follow up with that practice. I've had over 35 years of practice at doing this very thing.
Yesterday I learned of a huge blind spot in my self-examination. I discovered that I had been standing on my own foot, keeping me from achieving what I most wanted. Where I consider myself as one prone to listen, I learned that because of my mouth, and my nature to be ever-ready to come back with an answer, I haven't been hearing what someone has been trying to tell me for years. I was wondering why a friend hadn't been commenting on my writings, when I knew he was reading what I write. I was throwing up a wall of frustration, of put-down, without my even being aware of what I was doing. My being obstinate was (and is) not my biggest problem in this case, it's my not being aware that I was being this way that was my problem. Now aware of this attitude, I want my friend to help me through this problem by pointing out when I cause him to feel under attack in any way, when I'm not listening as I should. I want him to consider me a Nabal (if you're familiar with the story of David and Nabal). Nabal was considered by his wife and those who worked with him a "son of Belial," that meaning one who can't be talked to. Once I was caused to be aware of this situation (and my friend didn't accuse me in any way, he merely said he would like to ask me some questions, if I won't get upset), that was all it took to make me realize what I had been doing.
Just call me Nabal, and I'll know I'm doing it again.
(Read "Say, What?" for more on this.)
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:)
17For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. (Luke 8:)
12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Rev 20:)
In this dream I was walking toward a small town that had a river before it. Across the river was a narrow foot bridge. As I approached the bridge I saw a woman sitting at the foot of the bridge trying to sell a newspaper she had apparently found on the ground to those who passed by.
The woman was obviously in desperate straits, thin and haggard.
Beyond the woman, and all along the foot bridge I discovered there were many other people in even worse condition than the woman selling the newspaper. Some of these people sat along the sidewalk, while others were so weak and thin they were unable to sit, but lay.
As I began to pass one man who was laying prostrate on the ground, so thin and still I thought surely he was dead, the man, without moving but his arm, stretched his hand out a few inches along the walkway in effort to block my way. I stepped lightly on the hand with the intent of encouraging the man to withdraw his hand so I could pass. The hand, not more than a thin layer of skin covering bone, was so lifeless I could feel the coldness of it through the soul of my shoe. The hand moved back to its original position, with not a sign of life nor recognition from the man himself.
When I saw the woman at the foot of the bridge, my thought was to give her something to help her in her efforts to survive. But when I saw the multitude of starving on the bridge, my heart became more hardened toward the desperate and the needy. I found they were a burden and a nuisance to me.
It was at this moment I awoke, my thoughts on the event of the dream, and on my attitude in that dream.
When there was only the one person in need, it was within my power to be of assistance, even if but a small way, and for a moment in time. When the need was great, and for a great many people, it was then far beyond my ability to help even a few of the needy. And if I could help one starving person for one day, the next day that person would again be in just as desperate a need.
Since I could not be of help, I shut off my feelings.
In the parable (Luke 10:29-42) a man found a stranger along the road who had been beaten, robbed and left for dead. The man then did all he could to help this man return to health, and to set him on the road. We consider this, and to one degree or another we try to emulate the actions of the Good Samaritan.
A question: what if the good Samaritan had not seen one man in desperate need, but two? How about ten? How about a hundred? What if there was a famine in the land and everyone was in need but him? What would the Good Samaritan have done should this be the case? What would Jesus have said to do in this case?
Elijah had the power to do something about the poor and the hurting. Elijah had in fact even raised the dead. As a further fact, the reason there was a famine in the land is because Elijah called for it.
Jesus said He only came for the "lost sheep of the house of Israel." Maybe it's because she was not a Jew that Jesus ignored her.
Is it possible there's something other than the apparent that is being explained to us?
22If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. 23He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (John 15:)
1The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: (Acts 1:)
Is there any other evidence that miracles were for proofs, and not an end in themselves?
As hard as the Gread Depression and the Dust Bowl was, it was hardly a flicker in comparrison to a true famine as is now being experienced in many of the Third World countries today.
Such selfishness. Such brashness. This is especially true since Elijah is the one who caused the famine.
This famine lasted three and a half years. How bad did the famine get?
How do we respond to this important information? Do we prepare best we can for that terrible day? Do we warn those we love of such a day, and teach them how to prepare and how to stand in that evil day (Eph 6:10-18)? Do we even bother to prepare ourself and make sure we're one of the elect that the Lord will shorten this day for? Or is it more likely we have the attitude of "Yeah, yeah, I know. Now don't bother me and let me get back to my TV program"?
"Got any spare change?" he asked without breaking stride or displaying a smidgin of embarrassment. I see this all along the road, people in perfectly good health holding up cardboard signs asking for a handout.
During the Depression people traveled the highways and the byways, enduring hardship and dangers looking for work. They would volunteer to do a day's labor for just a simple meal. A night spent in a smelly barn was considered a luxury. What little money these people were able to scrape together above their absolute needs, they sent home to help their families.
Today we've lost those qualities somehow. We've become a "give me" people, wanting to get rather than to give and to share. I see families that the children are still living off their parents who are themselves only hanging on by a thread. Yesterday I met a man who he and his wife, his son and dog are living in a small car parked on the street because of lack of funds and health issues. This man (about 60) said he has grown children, living on their own, and rather than make an effort to help their destitute parents, they're asking them for money, and become upset because their parents won't give them what they don't have to give. Someone else I know is in poor health and relatively aged (in her 70s) who has her children, and grandchildren living in her home (against her will), living off her, and stealing from her on top of this. I know of several "children," in their 50 in some cases, living off their parents, in the parent's home, and who have openly stated that the house and all it entails belongs to them, and they, the "child," are graciously allowing the parent to stay with them.
I think of this famine we're experiencing today a famine of dignity. There's no concern for either one's self or for others.
This is a nation of the overfed. We're like pigs in a stye that will eat anything thrown in front of us. And what is thrown before us is the same as that which is thrown to the pigs: the slop of the world.
We are a junk-food people. If given the choice between a healthy meal of fish, vegetable and fruit, we would take the other offering of greasy hamburger, french fries and a soda. We've lost our appreciation and our appetite for that which is good for us. We no longer recognize the good, and strive for the bad.
In this land of plenty it's easy for us to settle back on our plush sofa with a bag of potato chips in one hand, and in our other hand the remote to our ten-thousand dollar wall-size TV and criticize the "riffraff" of this and other countries and their self-imposed and deserved poverty. We settle ourselves into our notion that we're better than the poor and the ignorant because we belong to a certain nation, church, or some organization that has the hidden words of a mystery god.
Children today are taught they don't have to work in order to have. They feel entitled to the best merely because they are who they are. Babies wear designer diapers; kindergartners with cell phones and iPods; grade school children given expensive lap tops while college students are unable to afford the ever-rising costs of books and other essential materials; automobiles and electronic gadgets with built-in obsolescence and no way to recycle them or depose of them without harming the planet and our health. This is the trend we follow, and that each of us contributes to daily.
We look at the poor deluded Mother Teresa's who devote their lives to helping all they are able with what little resources they have at their disposal, and instead of assisting them from our wealth, we plan on the bigger barns and storage bens we're going to build or rent in order to store those things we have no need for. We have merely to have, and so we can boast that we possess. Meanwhile we pity the poor souls who sacrifice themselves for the less fortunate because they don't have the sense to cease their works and join the "only" church that will give them eternal life, condemning the downtrodden to a fiery hell for an eternity.
But this famine is by no means the worst of famines we have with us today.
But the Word we have available to us, and that is thrust upon us, is not the healthy Word Jesus and the Apostles spoke, although the words are the same.
Now we have an overabundance of cheap Bibles, that are not only free, but are ofttimes thrust upon us. Bibles have reached the stage of being similar to junk food, and in many circles, even in the churches, the Bible is far less regarded than junk food. We don't value what comes easy for us, or that we have an abundance of, as demonstrated earlier in this article. The Word of God we find is no exception to this rule. Unlike junk food that is sought after, the Bible is seen as the offscouring that is of no better use than to collect dust on a book shelf or a coffee table, or to be secreted in a box in the attic.
In countries where the Bible is outlawed, this is not the case. Where the Bible is not allowed, it is treasured, sought after, and read faithfully. People of those countries where there is a famine in the land will gladly risk their lives for a mere scrape of the Word.
What we have, we don't seek. What we fear we are without, and that is neccessary, we seek diligently.
Today we can't help but see the signs of the end. It's not the wars, or the droughts, or the sicknesses that are our greatest signs that the end is near. We've had those before. But we see it in our weather, in our trash heaps, in our lusts, and in our abundance. We see it in the environment that will no longer handle our selfish behavior, but that we refuse to listen to because of our wants. If God doesn't end this age, the world itself will have to spew us out or perish.
We like to believe that the world revolves around us, and that one way or another we can escape the problems we have created. Someone, somehow will come rescue us at the last moment. This has been our life since a child, that we've been able to do as we please and not suffer the consequences, so why believe anything different now? Those of us who are Christians are now told that we have God for a Father. If our earthly father has been bailing us out of out troubles, surely our new Father, the creator of everything, can certainly keep us from harm.
Man, almost ever since I can remember, has been planing an escape route by which to avoid the trouble he has brought on himself. We read of building a space craft by which to shoot our pollution to other planets or into outer space and let whoever is out there deal with our failures. Or we're going to move great numbers of people to other planets and inhabit those areas, thus spreading our problems to all creation, just as we are to all the nations of the world today. Some have other means of escaping the times to come, such as a cloud that will whisk them to a Paradise in the sky, or like Heaven's Gate, a space ship behind a comet that is destined to take those prepared believers to Heaven.
46The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. (Luke 12:)
8Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14For many are called, but few are chosen. (Mat 22:)
11Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: 12And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. 13In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst. 14They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again. (Amos 8:)
6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Thes 2:)
4I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. (Isaiah 66:)
9That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: 10Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: 11Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (Isaiah 30:)
2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Tim 4:)
39Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. (John 12:)
3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4In WHOM THE GOD OF THIS WORLD HATH BLINDED THE MINDS OF THEM WHICH BELIEVE NOT, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2Cor 4:)
18Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, THEN COMETH THE WICKED ONE, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. (Mat 13:)
15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Rev 3:)
24Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: 25And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. 26Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: 27(For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) 28That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. 29For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. 30Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God. (Lev 18:)
16Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster ["Destroyer, spoiler" see Exodus 12:23 and Jer 51:25 for same word used] to destroy. (Isaiah 54:)
6I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:)
10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Mat 24:)
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