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Solomon discovered the emptiness of stuff.
Illus. A young banker was driving his BMW, in the mountains, during a snowstorm. As he rounded a turn the vehicle slid out of control and toward a cliff. At the last moment he unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped from the car.
Though he escaped with his life, his left arm was caught near the hinge of the door and torn it off at the shoulder.
A trucker passing nearby witnessed the accident, stopped his rig, and ran back to see if he could be of help. There standing, in a state of shock, was the banker at the edge of the cliff moaning, "Oh no, my BMW, my BMW". The trucker pointed to the bankerís shoulder and said "man youíve got bigger problems than a car".
With that the banker looked at his shoulder, finally realizing heíd lost his arm, and began crying ":Oh No, my new Rolex, my new Rolex".
The pull of the world can easily steal our affections away, and cause us to live for the wrong things. See, stuff is not bad, and it is not evil to own stuff, to have money, possessions, nice cars, Rolexís.
The important thing is our attitude toward the stuff in our life.
For example: Money is not evil, the love of it is.
Many godly men were rich :
Solomon Ė with his wealth he built the Temple.
Jehoshaphat Ė with his wealth he built a great Military power
Job - Stayed faithful to God even when he lost all his wealth. Then God gave him even greater wealth as a reward..
Hezekiah Ė Used his wealth to reform Israel.
Solomon was the richest man who ever lived.
He owned : Houses, vineyards, gardens, parks, fruit trees, slaves, flocks, singers, so much silver that it was as common as dirt, gold shields, a solid ivory throne, a solid gold throne, fleets of ships, robes of the finest materials, weapons, Storage buildings full of exotic spices, herds of mules, peacocks, 1,400 chariots, 12,000 horses, and land that extended farther than the eye could see.
Ecclesiastes 2:10: ďHe was denied nothing his eye desired.Ē
From a Sermon By Art Good
I once read of a little boy who used to escape his bedroom after being punished. He would crawl out of his bedroom window down an old fruit tree to the ground. One day, his father told him that he was going to chop down the fruit tree, because it hadnít borne any fruit for a number of years.
That evening, the boy and his friend bought a bushel of apples, and during the night, tied those apples on the barren branches. The next morning, the man could not believe his eyes. He said to his wife, "Honey, I just canít believe it! That old tree hasnít yielded any fruit for years, and now itís covered with apples. And, the most amazing thing is that itís a pear tree!"
‘Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house, nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I’d nibbled, the fudge I did taste, all the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scales there arose such a number! When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).
I remembered the marvelous meals I’d prepared, the gravies and sauces and beef nicely rare.
The pies and the cakes, the bread and the cheese, and the way I never said, "No thank you please."
As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt, and prepared once again to do battle with dirt---
I said to myself, as I only can "You can’t spend the winter disguised as a man!"
So away with the last of the sour cream dip, get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip.
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished, ‘till all the additional ounces have vanished.
I won’t have a cookie, not even a lick, I’ll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie, I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore --- But isn’t that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot ... Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!
STUBBORN JOY--Communion Meditation
"No man had more reason to be miserable than this one Ė yet no man was more joyful.
His first home was a palace. Servants were at his fingertips. The snap of his fingers changed the course of history. His name was known and loved. He had everything Ė wealth, power, respect. And then he had nothing.
Students of the event still ponder it. Historians stumble as they attempt to explain it. How could a king lose everything in one instant? One moment he was royalty; the next he was in poverty.
His bed became, at best, a borrowed pallet Ė and usually the hard earth. He never owned even the most basic mode of transportation and was dependent upon handouts for his income. He was sometimes so hungry he would eat raw grain or pick fruit off a tree. He knew what it was like to be rained on, to be cold. He knew what it meant to have no home.
His palace grounds had been spotless; now he was exposed to filth. He had never known disease, but was now surrounded by illness.
In his kingdom he had been revered; now he was ridiculed. His neighbors tried to lynch him. Some called him a lunatic. His family tried to confine him to their house.
Those who didnít ridicule him tried to use him. They wanted favors. They wanted tricks. He was a novelty. They wanted to be seen with him Ė that is, until being with him was out of fashion. THEN they wanted to kill him.
He was accused of a crime he never committed. Witnesses were hired to lie. The jury was rigged. No lawyer was assigned to his defense. A Judge swayed by politics handed down the death penalty.
They killed him.
He left as he came Ė penniless. He was buried in a borrowed grave, his funeral financed by compassionate friends. Though he once had everything...
Babe Ruth had hit 714 home runs during his baseball career and was playing one of his last full major league games. It was the Braves versus the Reds in Cincinnati. But the great Ruth was no longer as agile as he had once been. He fumbled the ball and threw badly, and in one inning alone his errors were responsible for most of the five runs scored by Cincinnati. As the Babe walked off the field after the third out and headed toward the dugout, a crescendo of yelling and booing reached his ears. Just then a boy jumped over the railing onto the playing field. With tears streaming down his face, he threw his arms around the legs of his hero. Ruth didnít hesitate for one second. He picked up the boy, hugged him, and set him down on his feet, patting his head gently. The noise from the stands came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly there was no more booing. In fact, hush fell over the entire park. In those brief moments, the fans saw two heroes: Ruth, who in spite of his dismal day on the field could still care about a little boy; and the small lad, who cared about the feelings of another human being. Both had melted the hearts of the crowd.
Ted W. Engstrom, The Pursuit of Excellence, 1982, Zondervan Corporation, pp. 66-67.
I sat down and looked through some magazines this past week. I discovered that if I want to feel right, I need to get a NordicTrack. I donít have a NordicTrack, just a membership down at the gym, so I suddenly realized that I didnít feel as healthy as I thought I did.
I then read that if I wanted to be stylish, I would need to buy a Toyota Camry. Our family van was in the shop, so I had been driving our old Mercury Sable. That felt bad enough. Real men drive SUVs or bright red sports cars. Iíve got four kids, so I donít have the luxury of driving what real men drive. So I found out that I couldnít be stylish with the cars I owned.
Then I saw that if I wanted to really feel the spring season, I had to dress for the spring season, and the only place for that was at Dillardís. I knew I wouldnít have a chance to go to Dillardís that week. Suddenly the beautiful weather just didnít seem that beautiful. I just wasnít dressed for it.
It didnít get any better. I learned that I needed to be opening my mail with knife from Oneida. I only had a two-dollar letter opener from Office Depot. Now even my mail was disappointing. On top of that, I discovered that I couldnít have a good meal if I wasnít in Texas Ė at least not a meal that would satisfy me. So much for my Lean Cuisines. Then I read that if I wanted to be a man, at least a manlier man than my neighbor, I had to drive a Yard-Man mower with a Briggs and Stratton engine. At least it was cheaper than a new SUV.
I like my house until I saw the new developmentís ad. I thought my family and I were close until I realized we didnít have season passes to the amusement park. I even thought I loved my wife, but since I hadnít bought her a diamond necklace from the jewelry store, I was informed that I didnít. I found out that I canít even be romantic with my wife unless we use Sylvania light bulbs. Wouldnít you know, we have GE.
By the time I got finished with those magazines, I wasnít just depressed Ė I needed counseling. Ever felt that way? We all have. Itís the sad fruit of living life that covets.
James Emery White, You Can Experience an Authentic Life (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000), 139-140
ďAunt Bessieís Pickled Beets!Ē 2 Corinthians 7:2-13 Key verse(s): 10:ďGodly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.Ē
The worst part of doing wrong is being found out. Weíve all been caught doing wrong in life; especially when we reflect back on our childhoods. And there are many things about doing wrong that are hurtful. First and foremost is the pain and suffering that we bring to others in our wrong-doing. This is the impact of wrong-doing that reverberates. Wrong has a way of broadcasting and spreading out, making a little mistake into a much bigger one. Take a lie for example. What started out as a fib can easily become the initiator of all manner of hurt, none of which was our intention in the first place. Certainly the effect of our wrong-doing on others is preeminent in our concern for doing right. But, there are other consequences attached to our wrongful behavior; not the least of which is the regret that becomes our lot when we are discovered in our sins.
I really hate the feeling of regret. There is simply something grinding and gnawing about it. Regret has a way of packaging itself so that it stays fresh for a very long time. Just when you think that you have put it away for good in some safe place where it can slowly but surely dissipate into the farthest and deepest reaches of your consciousness, some little reminder of the deed that spawned the regret in the first place creeps into your life. And thatís when regret pops up. Itís the jar of Aunt Bessieís pickled beets that you pushed to the back of the fruit cellar shelf in hopes that in the darkness it could be forgotten that, despite the accumulation of years of dust and perhaps a little rust around the rim, stares back at you fresh and beckoning to be opened. Unless you empty the contents and wash the jar, Aunt Bessieís face will always be popping up in the cellar no matter how many times you push it to the back of the shelf. You canít live with regret no matter how hard you try. It will never be tamed or transformed because, like pickled beets, regret always tastes and looks the same. You canít ďsaltĒ it or tincture it to make it more palatable. Pickled beets will always taste pickled.
ďIn 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East and Europe gave Borden a burden for the worldís hurting people. Writing home, he said, ĎIím going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.í When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in Godís plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets. (Daily Bread, December 31, 1988.)
There is only one way to deal with regret. You need to remove it from your life completely. Aunt Bessieís pickled beets are always going to be there unless, of course, you eat them, wash the jar and return it with thanks to Aunt Bessie. Regrets donít go away unless you decide in the first place that there is simply no room for them among the provisions in your heart. You may not like pickled beets but one thing you can be sure of, the beets marinated in that pickling solution are suspended in a state of freshness that will preserve them for a very long time. It is not likely that they will self-destruct any time soon requiring you to dispose of them with a clean conscience. No, Aunt Bessie pickled them for a reason. She wanted them preserved as a memorial to her garden and she had every intention of insuring that their survival would even exceed herís. You might as well eat them and get it over with.
1 John 4:16-4:16
1 Corinthians 16:14-16:14
1 Thessalonians 16:14-16:14
Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Long-suffering is love enduring. Kindness is loveís touch. Goodness is loveís character. Faithfulness is loveís habit. Gentleness is loveís self-forgetfulne...
WHAT COMES OUT OF YOUR MOUTH
How carefully do you monitor what goes into your mouth, compared to what comes out of it? For example, do you follow a low-fat diet? Do you obsessively track the grams of fat going into your body? Do you watch the number of calories that you consume? Do you avoid refined sugars? Do you limit your caffeine? Do you eat only dolphin-safe tuna? Are you a locavore, someone who eats only food grown locally? Are you a vegetarian or a vegan? Do you eat only free-range chicken? Do you shun high fructose corn syrup? Do you buy organic milk? Organic fruit? Organic soap? Heirloom tomatoes? Do you use sea salt instead of table salt? Purchase only beef thatís produced without the use of bovine growth hormone? Cook with olive oil instead of Crisco? Drink bottled water from the island of Fiji?
The bad news is that you can do all of those things, and youíll still die. Their value is limited. These practices may make you a little healthier, and definitely a little poorer, but their value is temporary. None of the foods that you are avoiding or limiting can defile you. They canít soil you spiritually. They canít make you any less pleasing to God.
Now, compared to the care you take in controlling what goes into your mouth, how careful are you to control what comes out of your mouth? Do you apply as much energy, and planning, and self-discipline to controlling your speech as you apply to controlling your calories, or your fat grams, or your carbohydrates? If not, then youíre focusing on the wrong thing. Because Jesus says that what comes out of your mouth can defile you.
Bevere states, ďIf you are offended and in unforgiveness and refuse to repent of this sin, you have not come to the knowledge of the truth. You are deceived, and you confuse others with your hypocritical lifestyle. No matter what the revelation, your fruit tells a different story. Youíll become a spring spewing out bitter waters that will bring deception, not truthĒ (19, The Bait of Satan).