Google+ 11/29/12 Naughty or Nice?

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14

 

Keep this in mind: The Teacher was considered wise, and he taught the people everything he knew.

He listened carefully to many proverbs, studying and classifying them.

The Teacher sought to find just the right words to express truths clearly.

The words of the wise are like cattle prods—painful but helpful.

Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep.

But, my child, let me give you some further advice:

Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion:

Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.

God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. 

 

I hope that by now in your daily Bible reading, you have discovered a theme that is present in almost every one of its books and chapters.  Through divine inspiration, the authors of the Bible share the love of God and His saving grace, and constantly warn of the foolishness and danger of listening to false prophets.  There is much discussion about who authored Ecclesiastes, but the conventional Christian wisdom believes that Solomon is both the speaker and the author.  If this is so, that would place the writing of this book towards the end of his reign as king, and right before his death, around 931 B.C.  For those of you that might be new daily Bible readers, Solomon is the son of David.  God picks him to be king.  Solomon is considered to be a wise man and is called "Teacher" in this book.  The Hebrew word that is assigned to the speaker in this book is "Qohelet" which also means teacher.  Notice how our Scripture describes Solomon's speech.  Solomon taught the people, all he knew.  Does that mean good and bad?  According to our Scripture, yes!  Notice, after careful study, Solomon's words are described as "cattle prods" and "a nail-studded stick."  Most things that are true and just, come with a warning label.  Have you ever considered why there are huge warnings on everything that we ingest or use?  Things that can appear to be useful and good, used in an incorrect fashion, can be very harmful.  Let's use a chain saw as an example.  When Hurricane Charley hit my Florida home in 2004, I lost 80 huge pine trees in my yard.  We were paralyzed and could not get out of our driveway to go anywhere.  For three months, my sons and I became lumberjacks!  If we would have had only axes to use, we would still be cutting wood.  Three chain saws made much faster work of the massive task.  On every chain saw we used, there was a massive warning label that said, "Please keep arms, hands, and legs away from the moving chain saw blade."  Why was the warning there?  First, one could get hurt if one used the chain saw in an unwise, unintended fashion.  We had to study how to use this tool before beginning our task.  Secondly, a warning indicates that at least one person has already gotten hurt by being careless with an otherwise useful tool.  Solomon goes on to warn us in this Scripture passage that sometimes we over-think things.  What Solomon is trying to tell us is, at a point, we are called to right action, not more study.  He warns of getting worn out from studying, hence not getting anything useful done.  Anyone who has over-studied for a school or work exam knows exactly what Solomon is saying.  At a point, we have diminishing returns.  Solomon finally tells us that we have the whole story and sums it up much better than I ever could.  He says, "Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.  God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad."  Today, stay away from false prophets.  Identify them for what they are; false and inaccurate!  How can we tell?  Evaluate what they say against the canon that is the 66 books of the Bible.  Study and listen to many proverbs.  Fully digest them.  Listen to the parts that hurt, also.  We may need to be "prodded" or "sticked" a little by God.  After we have studied and learned, accept the truth and act on it.  Be weary from all your "God tasks" each day, and not from the futile questioning that Satan encourages.  Heed Solomon's warning.  During this season especially, the only list we need to worry about is the one God makes regarding everything we do, public or secret.  God will determine whether we are "naughty or nice," so please act accordingly.  Coal in our stocking from Santa is simply an idle threat.  The promise of eternal life through our obedience to God and His grace and mercy, on the other hand,  is not something you want to miss! season"'""