sunlight beaming on green trees

Walk through the Word #1

Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection Pastor's Corner

This is a study of Genesis 1.
  1. Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection
  2. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
  3. Ecclesiastes: the Quest for Contentment
  4. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  5. Finding balance in a world of extremes

Thank you for joining me for our first episode in Walk through the Word for 2022. I’m brother Joseph and I’m looking forward to digging into the scriptures with you. As always, I’d like to start by encouraging you to take your time as you go through this podcast. Read the chapters involved and pray to get the most out of it. You can comment on this post with any questions by visiting our website: thelwbc.com.

Today we’re beginning a study of the book of Genesis, the book of beginnings. It begins with a clear affirmative statement that God made the heaven and the earth when time began. Now, I’d like to compare this with John 1:1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Creation was perfect, and came as a result of the Logos (God in Word form) creating all things. This is referenced in the book of Proverbs which compares the Logos to Wisdom (see Proverbs 8:22-31). The scripture also reads,

The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.

Proverbs 3:19

When you read these scriptures closely, you realize that God, the fountain of wisdom, created a perfect structure.

But it was not to remain so.

Millions, perhaps billions of years passed between the time that God created the world and the time that He placed human life upon it. Science is not necessarily wrong when it says the world is 4.5 billion years old. The scripture simply says that God created the world. Period. With that said, let’s go deeper.

When God began working on the earth in verse 2 of Genesis 1, we see that it is in a state of judgment. The prophet Jeremiah brings this out clearly as he compares the world’s beginning to the wrath of God that was to be unleashed against Jerusalem.

I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger.

Jeremiah 4:23-26

But God is the author of new beginnings. In verse 1, the world was perfect (for everything that God does is perfect) but one verse later we see it is in chaos. But God had plans for the earth, just like He has a plan for your life. And His purpose will not be stopped. So the Spirit of the Lord began to brood upon the earth, changing it from a state of chaos to perfection.

I’m sure we who are born of the Spirit can relate to that! How wonderful it is to know that, like this world, you were in the mind of the great Creator. That even though your world (life) was chaotic God’s plan wasn’t altered. Perhaps you grew up in a bad home. Perhaps you had negative influences that pushed you in the wrong direction. Perhaps you grew up in church but never had a touch from the living God. Whatever the situation, Christ alone is the one who can transform chaos into perfection.

And He will do it, if you’ll let Him.

But God can’t do it alone. He needs YOU to put forth the effort needed to transform your life. I’d like to point out that the world had to embrace the touching of God’s spirit in order to be transformed by it.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants[e] yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:11-12

Notice that the earth is responding to God’s command. It is pushing forth vegetation. The EARTH is pushing forth the right kind of seed. So must we put forth the spiritual strength and energy to produce the character of Jesus Christ. So many times in our life, we are tempted to stay in our “helpless” estate. So many times, we give in to the urge to simply pity ourselves and not reach out for God’s transformative power.

But God is our master not our slave. His power is there to use if you are willing to change yourself to His image (see Romans 12:2). As a Christian, you might still be tempted to gossip, to hold onto grudges, or make immoral decisions. But God is calling us to be changed from the chaos of this miserable world but the power of the Spirit that lives within us. Let’s look at some other scriptures to better understand.

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry … Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

Colossians 3:5,12-14

Note that it is YOU putting to death the actions of this body–not God. It is YOU who puts on the character of the Spirit. Not God.

At the end of this glorious chapter, we see that God finally brought out the highest of all creation. A son in His own image (Gen 1:26). Now, as I said before, this first chapter is all about restoration. And, in itself, it’s a glorious promise that God will end the chaos of the world around us and bring forth Jesus Christ and His Bride in the glorious power of the resurrection.

Just as Adam and Eve existed together in one complete unit, so will Jesus Christ walk among His people when all things are made new (see Revelations 21 and 22).

Let us press to be molded into the image of Christ so we can live in that perfect world that only He can create.

aerial view of clouds

The End of the Matter

Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection Pastor's Corner

This is a study of Genesis 1.
  1. Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection
  2. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
  3. Ecclesiastes: the Quest for Contentment
  4. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  5. Finding balance in a world of extremes

This year I’ve truly enjoyed combing through the book of Ecclesiastes with you. As we wrap up 2021, I’d like to close our study on Ecclesiastes while focusing on the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Solomon begins this chapter by giving us one of the most poetic descriptions of old age and death that has ever been written. He shows us that as we age the things that once produced delight and pleasure no longer do so. Every moment can become a burden. I’d like to compare that to the state of this world which is old and ready to die.

The things that once were innocent and produced joy are now corrupt. Relationships, once the thing that held society together, are now dysfunctional and tear society apart. An upright man or woman is a rare thing to find. But it is in the midst of this gloom that Solomon brings out the main point of this entire book. It teaches us how to conduct ourselves throughout life and, I believe, it is a strong message for us as part of the Body of Jesus Christ.

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

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

God will bring everything into judgment

I’d like to actually focus first on the verse 14. We all know the day of judgment is when Christ returns to take up His throne (see Psalm 98:8-9). As we heard this morning in service, His coming is the ultimate showdown bringing judgment to the antichrist and the false church while establishing the reign of the saints and the redeemed of Israel.

As He comes from glory, seven thunders utter their voices according to Revelation 10:4. Part of what they contain is the revealed Name of Jesus Christ (the New Name that He will receive according to Rev. 3: 12 and Rev. 19:12). Remember a name signifies a ministry or the holding of a particular office.

Joseph’s name was changed to Zaphnath-Paaneah which means “the man to whom mysteries (secret things) are revealed” when he entered into a new phase in his life/ministy. This is so important because you must understand that some names can only be uttered at specific times in world history.

Let me make this a little clearer. Brother Branham makes a great statement here when he says,

258 That expression. If you only—only knew the numerology of the Bible, and know what Elvis or—or Ricky means, to the Scripture! Uh-huh. Just like, why did Jesus…You say, “There is nothing to that, your name.” There isn’t? That name could only come in this last days, for this last-days people.

  260 That name could not be spoken till this day. That’s the reason we got this hellish thing we got in the earth today, because of such things. The whole human race is corrupted. It’s—it’s gone, see, and that’s why it is.

   Rev. William Marrion Branham,   63-0728 – Christ Is The Mystery Of God Revealed

My point in sharing this is that there are patterns and rules to the spiritual world just like there are in the natural world. The new name of Jesus Christ (whatever it will be) will be so glorious that it will be only given by the divine utterance of God at His return. Now names aren’t just “Harry” or “Suzy”. When Moses asked the Lord to show His glory, God went before him announcing HIs name. Let’s take a look at what happened.

 5And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Exodus 34:5-7

Can’t you just imagine that Voice proclaiming or thundering out in blast after blast? The Lord! BOOM! Merciful and gracious! BOOM! And it goes on.

You see, as I tried to explain this morning, the name of God reflects the character of God. Which is why, when He came as a savior, His Name was Jesus which means “Jehovah-Savior”. But what about when He comes as a King to judge the world?

Oh, it’s so important to realize that God continues to reveal Himself to His people both now and in the world that is to come. None dare try to guess what He will be called for they will be wrong. This is a sovereign secret that God will reveal when He comes again.

Now, I want to go a little deeper if it’s all right. And just pause this whenever you’d like and go study and pray because we love to talk about the Lord and sometimes we need to rest our minds a little between thoughts. These thunders utter at the coming of the Lord Jesus, therefore we see that they do bring in themselves faith for the rapture. The Bride of Jesus Christ is now waiting for His coming–not for a specific doctrine or move but for the revealing of the Lord from glory (see Acts 3:21).

His coming from glory is to return to earth and become the judge according to Revelations 10:4, Isaiah 40:5 and others). On His way descending, He meets His Bride in the middle of the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and reveals Himself to Her as the two witnesses (Moses and Elijah) declare His Name as Jesus to the Jewish remnant (see Rev. 7, Rev. 14, Zechariah 4).

Why do the two witnesses declare Him to be Jesus?

Because He is come to bring salvation unto Israel, so He is still the Saviour! The perfection of the Word cannot be broken. To the Gentiles who have rejected Him, he is the judge. But to Israel who has been longing for the Messiah, Christ is revealed as Jesus.

Zechariah writes,

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

Zechariah 13:1

While this revealing is going on, the Bride of Christ is waiting in the heavenly atmospheres just above the earth. Remember that Joseph revealed himself to his brothers without his wife being present? So Christ reveals Himself to the elected of Israel while the Bride waits in the heavens just above the world. Zechariah shows us that the saints will accompany him but He is revealed privately to the elect out of Israel.

The two prophets turn the hearts of the elect of Israel from the “faith of the fathers to the children” under the anointing of Elijah (see Malachi 4:5-6). If you notice, the ministry of the 7th Angel (which we believe to be Brother Branham or a man anointed with the spirit of Elijah) actually occurs during the calling out of the 144,000 in Israel in Revelations 11.

What is it?

The same Elijah spirit that calls out a Gentile Bride for Christ from creeds and empty religion, calls out an elected group in Israel. For the Gentiles, there were hidden truths (such as the Name of Jesus Christ) that were hidden in the Bible, lost to the church throughout the ages, and revealed in Brother Branham’s ministry. Now, as that ministry comes to call out Israel, Christ who is Lord of both Jew and Gentile, cries like a lion and the seven thunders which are the Voice of God roar out their great secret.

Isaiah prophesied what would happen just before the Millennium. He asked,

Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.”

Isaiah 66:8

Christ Himself appears so they can see the scars in His hand (Zechariah 13:6) but His Bride is not with Him. This 3 1/2 year period passes very quickly. THEN after He is revealed and fights for Israel, King and Queen come from glory to take over the world.

There is definitely more to the Thunders than what I have shared. Let us simply say that all the world will see the effects of their sounding.

“And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”

Zechariah 14:9

The conclusion

Now that was quite a lot to pack into that one verse in Ecclesiastes. But I’d like to turn now to the first part of our reading.

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

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

When all is said and done, it’s not so important whether you understand the Thunders, the Seals or any of the deep mysteries of the Bible. My brothers and sisters, what matters is that we live the kind of Christian life that glorifies Jesus Christ.

Ecclesiastes begins with a search for meaning, for understanding to the deep things of life. Why do we die? What is life’s purpose? And it ends with an answer, the perfect answer. Our whole purpose in this world is to fear the Lord and to show we love Him by keeping His Word.

When He comes to judge the world, my prayer is that he will find you and I faithful to His call.

Thank you for joining me for this study in the Word. Lord willing, we will begin a new book in 2022.

May God bless you.

sunlight beaming on green trees

Ecclesiastes: The Quest for Contentment

Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection Pastor's Corner

This is a study of Genesis 1.
  1. Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection
  2. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
  3. Ecclesiastes: the Quest for Contentment
  4. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  5. Finding balance in a world of extremes

All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living? 

Ecclesiastes 6:7-8

There is so much to say about contentment that it is almost impossible to find the perfect place to begin. But let me tell you a story that I hope will help pave the way for the few thoughts I’d like to share as we wrap up this year’s Bible study. The Roman philosopher, Cicero, told the story of an unhappy king who, although he had wealth and power, could trust no one. Only his daughters were allowed to shave him because he constantly feared assassination.

One day, a fisherman came to his court and began flattering him, telling him how perfect his life must be. The king became so annoyed at the useless prattle that he offered to trade places with the fisherman, letting him rule in his place for a few days. Of course the fisherman agreed and quickly the exchange was made.

The fisherman had everything he could want—money in abundance, good food, the most beautiful women. It was everything that could possibly bring contentment. Until he happened to look up, as he sat on the throne, and realized that there was a sword hanging suspended above his head—point down. The sword was held in place by a single strand of hair.

Of course, seeing this the nervous fisherman quickly jumped off the throne and ran out of there, realizing that he had been better off before hand.

Brothers and sisters, we must remember that there will always be those who have things that we don’t have. Perhaps people that we don’t have. Perhaps the quality of relationships that we don’t.

Like the fisherman we can easily take what we see on the surface as being the whole story. But it’s only when we’re in the situation that we see the true reality. Only when he was seated on the throne could the fisherman see the sword hanging over his head.

So, what is contentment?

Contentment is the root of happiness. And being content is a choice, not a gift. Let me emphasize that. Contentment itself is a choice. It is a settled peace that automatically happens when you finally accept what God has decreed for your life (be it for the moment or permanently).

Paul said,

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13

I want you to notice how Paul stated that contentment was something he learned. And the learning came through the experience of facing different extremes in life. There will be times you have strength and beauty as a young man or woman.

That cannot last forever. You must learn to be content with what you have as you age and not look back at what you were or fantasize about what you can never be. You must face reality successfully by using Paul’s secret.

Are you ready to find out what that secret was?

Recognizing that he had Jesus, and having Jesus meant Paul had everything. In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul says, “As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” As long as you have Jesus, you truly have every reason to be content.

But what does this mean in everyday life?

Let’s first look at what discontentment produces and we’ll be better able to understand how to be content and why it’s so important. Discontentment is the basis for every war, every act of adultery, every murder and the evil that inundates society.

Because one ruler isn’t content with the size of his kingdom, he or she begins arming against another nation. That nation retaliates and we have a conflict. A woman thinks another man will treat her better than the man she’s married to—or perhaps a man is attracted to another woman’s physical features—and the discontentment pushes them into sinful lifestyles. We can go on and on but the point is that not being content drives us to actions that will lead to our ruin.

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIV

Discontentment produces misery in life because w focus on what we don’t have instead of the good that God has given us. This affects our health, promotes jealousy, and drives the Spirit of God away from us.

Discontentment vs. Self-improvement

I want to pause and point out that there’s a difference between being discontent and wanting to improve your situation. Working to get a better job, become stronger or lose weight etc., those things are all of course fine. But you have to keep it in balance. If God doesn’t give you the job you want but gives you another position–be content with that.

If God lets you lose twenty pounds but doesn’t let you get to that size 0, be content with that! Never stop trying to improve yourself but be content with being the best that you can be. That difference might seem to be small but it’s important. Sometimes, good desires can become unhealthy obsessions if they’re not balanced. If this is not clear, please write me a question.

Contentment allows us to live fruitful lives

Christians who are content in their natural lives are better able to focus on fulfilling the purpose that God put them here for. They are better able to bear more spiritual fruit because their energy isn’t going into pining over what they don’t have.

Our first reading, Ecclesiastes 6:7 shows us that nothing satisfies. All our work goes to producing food for our table (directly or indirectly) yet each day we get hungry again. Our money goes to buying a home but then there are repairs that need to be made. Or you kids might get a game you’ve wanted, only to realize after a while that you don’t enjoy playing it anymore.

Our society feeds upon constantly inundating ourselves with “new” things—getting things or even going to as many places as possible before death. And in so doing we breed a climate of discontentment. We subconsciously make the natural things of this world our God by drawing satisfaction from them instead of the Lord Jesus. But the Bible points out that this isn’t the way things should be. And as Christians, unless we learn to be content in whatever situation comes our way, we cannot hope to fully please God.

Let’s take Job for just a moment. We all want health. We desire health because we know how bad sickness can be. But Job came to the point that he said,

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Job 2:10

There are times we parents want our children to be like other children. Or we push our family members to pursue the paths that “important people” take. But it would be better to push others to seek the will of the Lord instead. I think of Paul of Tarsus whose family had prestige, business and influence. This might be hard for you to imagine 2,000 years later but it was no small thing to be educated by Gamaliel the grandson of one of the most renowned Hebrew scholars. I’m sure Paul’s father had high expectations for his son. He could, potentially become high priest one day.

But God had bigger plans. He didn’t want Paul to occupy the chair of the high priest. He wanted him to sit in a Roman prison. To be beaten by mobs and live his life hounded from city to city by men who swore to kill him for being a heretic.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Maybe not. But in this and more Paul learned contentment. Despite not living up to his family’s expectations, despite the shame and terror of constantly running for his life without the comforts of a wife and family, despite knowing that he would have no child of his own to carry on his family name—Paul said he was content.

I think this should truly cause us to re-evaluate what we consider to be important.

How do we become content?

Let’s wrap this up by addressing this important question. All you have to do to live a contented life as a Christian is to make up your mind to be satisfied with what God gives you. Do not deride the value of your own life because it isn’t like someone else’s.

Do not compare yourself to others. Compare yourself only to Christ. Work to make yourself the best that you can be, but remember your best is between you and God. It doesn’t involve anyone else.

Draw satisfaction from intangible things such as relationships instead of materialistic things. If your relationships aren’t what they ought to be, pray and work on them. You can find contentment in winning small victories. Even if things aren’t what they should be, see the good in the moment and focus on what is right instead of what is wrong about the situation.

The conclusion of the whole matter

In Ecclesiastes 12, the Bible tells us that the point of life is to fear God and to keep His Word. Christ is to be the center of everything that we do. Of everything that we are. And, if that is the case, like Paul of old we must learn in everything to be content.

Ecclesiastes: Finding balance in a world of extremes Part 2

Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection Pastor's Corner

This is a study of Genesis 1.
  1. Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection
  2. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
  3. Ecclesiastes: the Quest for Contentment
  4. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  5. Finding balance in a world of extremes

This is Brother Joseph at TheLWBC.com.

In our last message, I shared the importance of maintaining balance in our natural and spiritual lives. Next, I’d like to target four areas in the spiritual and natural areas of life that often give us trouble. They are maintaining balance when:

  • Handling doctrinal and political differences
  • Navigating social changes
  • Dealing with backslidden saints and outright sinners
  • Loving family who don’t show your beliefs

Some are things we don’t like to talk about—at least I don’t— but they are part of Satan’s Eden. As such, I believe it’s my duty as a pastor to address them.

In going through our message this evening, as always I encourage you to get your Bible and read through the Scriptures I reference throughout the week. A good companion sermon to today’s message is The Falling Apart of the World preached by Bro. William Branham in 1962.

So, let’s start with an easy one:

1. Balance when doctrinal difference arise

Sadly, I’ve seen doctrinal divisions divide churches, marriages, and believers at-large more often than I care to recount. Message believers disagree on many things from Christmas to the COVID vaccine. Not only does this demonstrate spiritual (and often natural) immaturity, but the sad reality is that all believers are striving to get to the same heaven. Do some think there will be special spots in heaven perhaps closer to Jesus for them because their opinion is the right one? Believe me when I say neither the Bible nor the messenger for this hour support that belief. The scripture does show us that all our debating is irrelevant because only God holds perfect insight into His Word.

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Psalm 147:5

Believe it or not, it’s rare to find Christians who agree on every single detail of the Word. Even when they do, there’s no guarantee that they’re right. Just because believers, or even preachers, say the same thing, it doesn’t mean that God is present or that God is pleased. Just think of King Ahab’s group of preachers who were all sincerely in agreement but had a wrong view of the Word (2 Chronicles 18:1-25). As a result of their error, the king died and the nation was thrown into chaos.

So let’s look at this more closely. On one hand, believers are supposed to contend for the faith (Jude 3). We cannot accept ideas that contradict the Word. On the other, we are to preserve unity at all costs (Eph. 4:3). Where is the balance? Let me put it this way,

What should happen when we bitterly disagree on what the Bible (or the Message) means or what God wants for our life?

Again, our goal is to maintain spiritual balance. The devil’s goal is to cause you to fall on one side or the other. If you’re straying off on the legalist side, you might find yourself in an argument, having some kind of ill feeling toward that person. If you stray off on the excessive grace side of things, you’ll find yourself tolerating error and the Word will no longer produce Its power.

But a discerning, balanced approach focuses on knowing Christ, NOT explaining His Word. When explanations are necessary, line everything up with the Word as best as you know the Word and leaves the rest up to God. Above all, keep a firm love of God in your heart toward that person,no matter what church they affiliate with or even if they don’t belong to a church at all.

Right now, a divisive issue is the right response to the COVID-19 vaccine. Christians are all over the spectrum on this issue but let this be clear—Satan’s objective to divide and then conquer the Church has never changed. The only way to win this fight is to maintain a standard of divine love and unity regardless of your brother or sister’s feelings on the matter.

Here’s a good test: ask yourself if you can feel as warmly toward that person after you’ve disagreed as you did before the divisive topic came up?

If not, pray through until you get that brotherly (or sisterly) love in your heart again. Otherwise, you’re not ready for the Rapture.

Let me give a simple example. Years ago, I used to work with a wonderful brother who I believe was an Apostolic Pentecostal. He and I often discussed the scriptures and , one day, he invited me to a gathering that Billy Graham was going to lead. I was a teenager and might not have been preaching yet but I told him that my friends and I wouldn’t go. My logic at the time was that, since we had heard what the messenger of the hour said, what could Billy Graham have to say that would be worth our time?

Now doesn’t that sound terrible?

It was. Frankly it was flat out wrong and I am thankful now that the Lord has let me grow enough in Him that I can share this with you to prevent you from making that same mistake. The fact is, yes we might be called out by a different Voice but that same messenger showed us time and again the importance of uniting ourselves and fellowshipping with others as long as they are Christians. Let me share a long but precious quote with you from teh emssage Speak to the Rock.

That’s the reason today the church is getting so dry and everything: murmuring, complaining, and fussing, and stewing, and one saying, “Oh, bless God, I belong to the Assemblies; that’s the biggest.”

And the other one say, “Well, I’m a Oneness, and I’ll tell you; I’ve got it.” And that’s just the reason your supply is cut off. That’s it exactly. Sure it is.

If you get together, and I don’t care whether he belongs here, or where he belongs to that; if he’s a Christian he’s my brother. Hallelujah. That’s all there is to it. And I’ll just shout, and shake his hands, and move on. What do I care? What…If he says he’s a Christian, and he’s acting like a Christian, and he—his fruits proves he’s a Christian, I’m associating with him and going on. If this fellow isn’t, I’ll take him by the arm and say, “Come on, brother, straighten up your life and let’s go anyhow.”

53-1115A – Speak To The Rock
    Rev. William Marrion Branham

Did you catch that? Our spiritual dryness is because of divisive spirits which is really spiritual prejudice. You think your church is superior even if you don’t say so. Your view of the Word is more accurate. Says who? The Holy Ghost or your own imagination?

Is it getting warm where you are? I hope so!

Let me point out that Brother Branham said even if a brother isn’t acting like a Christian, still reach out, pull him up higher and move on together. But do we do that? We who claim to be followers of William Branham’s message?

No.

Too often we say, “if they were elect they’d have made it.” Or, the classic: “If they were elect, they’d see it my way.” This is exactly why we are dying by the thousands in our church pews instead of being the mature Bride that Jesus Christ is looking for. This is exactly why many may miss the Rapture itself. Beloved in Christ, you who are blessed of the Lord, examine your attitude so that you can reflect the truth of this Message.

A balanced approach sees the attitude of the person— desire to serve Christ and the efforts that are being made to live for God not the letter of the law as to whether they’re right or wrong.

You may have heard me tell this story but I believe it’s worth repeating just now. My wife and I love to travel. I’m a historian and and Europe is a favorite destination spot. One day I stood in France at Notre Dame cathedral and watched as an old woman who might have had MS struggled to make her way up the long path to the altar. She had a candle lit for prayer. My heart clenched as I admired this little lady. I don’t agree with the Catholic faith at all. But I wonder how many who claim to be Holy Ghost filled believers would go through the obvious pain and struggle that this lady did?

Or would we just stay home and stream?

In the end, I wonder who God feels has shown more love.

Remember this as you interact with Christians from across the spectrum. True balance doesn’t accept everything but it does accept everyone , discerning good from evil through the Word that you have received.

Divisions between Married Couples

Now I want to address this same issue but focus for a few minutes on married couples. Things get a little more intense when the people involved are married.

Yes, God has an order for that.

First of all, the Bible shows us that it is the husband’s view of the Word that is to anchor the home—not the wife or the children. If there is a difference in understanding, to bein line with the Word she must defer to his judgment unless it is totally antichrist (which of course wouldn’t happen if this is a Christian man). As it is written in the biblical marriage song,

Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him.

Psalm 45:10-11 ESV

That’s a tremendous amount of authority and most importantly responsibility. Men, make it your duty to be in fellowship with the Spirit and grow in your understanding of the Word. Quite honestly, not even the pastor of the church has the authority to go around a husband to explain the Word to that man’s wife (see 1 Corinthians 14:34-40) unless the husband asks the pastor to do so.

I’m stressing this because this Laodicean age influences easily creep into our lives and the only way to escape is to choose the Word way.

The same applies to the children of the home. If children believe they know more of God’s will than the parents, again this breaks the model of God’s Word (see Luke 2:51, Eph. 6:1-3).

2. Balance in natural and social issues

It seems that society places more emphasis on rights, technology, wealth, and science everyday. As such, Satan works through this to tempt the Christian and place us in situationst hat are very difficult to navigate.

Let’s start with the rights issue.

It seems that everyone in this world has rights except the Christian. We’re stripped of our right to pray, to witness, to share the love of God as and when we would. But the biggest social “hot topics” lately have been issues revolving around the women and gender identity. As you interact with people who, sadly, have been blinded by the god of this world and cannot see whether or not they are male or female, remember two things:

  1. God still expects you to love them as He loves
  2. We are not here to change the world but to prepare to leave it

This is Satan’s Garden of Eden, a perversion of the perfect place that God created. In God’s garden, man was both male or female originally (see Gen. 1:27-28) and Satan has deformed humanity through science until we have a generation that doesn’t know what gender they are. This is again a false perversion of the Bride of Christ losing Her identity as she unites with Jesus Christ (see 2 Tim. 2:7) and the beauty of Jesus Christ being formed in His Bride (see Rev. 1:13).

The spiritual union between man and woman is now a disgraceful reality that the governments of this world enforce. We as Christians must not encourage or support such lifestyles. However, we cannot stop people who wish to live in this way. Again, our job is not to REFORM society but to PREACH the Gospel (Good News) that Christ is here to liberate all who desire to find freedom from the bondage of this sodomite world. We are here to bear witness to the truth.

There has been much discussion about what to call “Johns” who now wish to be “Charlotte”. I do not believe we as Christians should use pronouns that refer to men as women and vice versa. To do so is to cater to what the enemy wants and implies that God made a mistake when He made that person male or female. However we believers are not responsible for the name that this person wishes to be called.

As much as I hate to say it, names are fluid and aren’t always tied to a particular gender. For example, we attribute the name Noah as belonging to a man, however the Bible tells us in Numbers 27 that Zelophehad had a daughter whose name was Noah and who received an inheritance along with her sisters.

The balance here is to stand for your principles, and the accuracy in God’s creative plan in making us male or female. However we must recognize that whatever name a man or woman is called is their responsibility not yours. I’m genuinely sorry for any man that wishes to be called Harriett. That’s a poor misguided brother that Satan has wrapped around his ugly crooked finger. But if that is the name I know him by, what else can I call him?

We cannot rename the whole world. Unfortunately. But I could not, as a Christian, refer to a man as “she.” Satan tries to indoctrinate us believers but we must remember that God makes no mistakes.

Beyond the gender issue, there are many social issues that clamor for our attention. Brothers and sisters, God has called us to peace. Racism is a rampant problem but Jesus never made it the focus of His ministry although He experienced it on a daily basis. He was a Jew, as they thought, living under the heel of Rome—the very government that killed him. In the Roman view, Jesus was not their equal. He was a little better than an animal fit to do the bidding of Rome.

If only they knew the truth!

My message to you is to keep balanced. Live a life that shows all you meet the respect and love of God. That is your focus. Remember, we are preparing to leave this world, not fix its problems.

Our world constantly struggles for “social justice” and to a certain degree that’s a good thing. But Solomon shows us that we shouldn’t be surprised when the poor are mistreated or the good meaning of a law is perverted to accomplish a political scheme. They are all reflections of a fallen world and corrupt government on a grand scale.

 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent [b]perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.

Eccl. 5:8 NKJV

Many get caught up in the cries for social justice and unknowingly fall into the devil’s snare. Again, we’re speaking of balance here.

On one hand, Christians tend to live in their own bubble without reaching out to those who suffer. This is wrong and we may answer God for having a callous heart or committing sins of omission.

On the other hand, believers sometimes get themselves embroiled in things that God never called us to do.

So, where is the balance?

Our core mission is to “preach the Gospel” and demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ not be vocal advocate for social change and protestors.

We should care about the needs among us—the hurting, the homeless, the refugees and do all we can to help. James teaches us that this is part of true religion and undefiled (James 1:27). We should more than care, it is our responsibility to act to make a difference!

But act knowing that the corruption and cruelty in this world goes beyond your reach and will last until the King of Kings finally comes to set up His throne.

Brother Branham shows us where our eyes ought to be as Christians.

Everything that’s outside of that…God sent everything, He made it fragile so it would break. In its fragile condition like that, it’s got to break. It’s fragile. But, remember that we got a Kingdom that’s solid now, when everything else falls and give way.

….A Kingdom! Not a politicianal system, not a political system, not a church system, not a denominational system; it all becomes Pharisees and doctors of the devil. But we receive a Kingdom, an Eternal King Who is the Eternal Word, Who has Eternal Life; by His Eternal Word to His Eternal people who has Eternal Life, and we’re partakers of this. Oh, my! That’s the thing.

62-1216 – The Falling Apart Of The World
Rev. William Marrion Branham

Cost of Living

The last thing I wish to present today is balance in regards to inflation. As the cost of living rises, the cry to “make more money” seems to rise in volume also. But, here again, God advocates for balance.

When goods increase,
They increase who eat them;
So what profit have the owners
Except to see them with their eyes?

Eccl. 5:11 NKJV

Plainly said, the more money we make, the more expenses there will be to pay. It is all an illusion of security and the same can be said for education and technology. While money, tech, and education each have their place, we must be careful of giving into the social pressure to “get more tech/education/money” which can make us miss the very call that God has placed on our lives to fulfill.

Most Christians don’t mean to get caught in the “need more money trap.” Instead, it’s the pressure placed by the employer, mounting expenses, or simply too much time on our hands. As Solomon says, you’ll always need more money–if not today, then tomorrow. But without balance, you’ll lose the joy of living. So, if you’ve met your 40 hours for the week why not take end it there and enjoy time with the Lord, by yourself, or something positive that you enjoy?

Peter shows us that everything around us will pass away and urges us to live with that understanding.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

1 Peter 3:11-14 KJV

Sometimes parents want their children to succeed in life, so they overemphasize school, clubs, and sports more than they emphasize a deep spiritual walk with God. How many of our children are used to spending an hour in prayer on their knees each day? Or listening to the sermons that will give them the spiritual strength they need to face an overpowering enemy? The time they give to the natural is taking away from their ability to channel into God’s Spirit.

I’ve had the privilege of teaching kids who were lined up to be professional athletes, ambassadors or politicians, movie stars and dancers. They knew that in order to achieve anything, they had to be the best. And so they sacrificed everything for the chance to get noticed by the right people.

I wonder if we Christians have that same vision for our own souls and the souls of those whom we care about? Are we willing to sacrifice the other pulls in this life in order to achieve the walk that God desires?

John has words that we must never forget:

And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

1 John 2:17 NLT

Now, here’s a good place to pause and reflect on what we’ve covered so far.

Today we’ve looked at maintaining balance in some very controversial areas such as doctrinal divisions and social issues. Above all things, remember the coming of the Lord is near and we must focus our time on winning souls for His coming while preparing ourselves to leave. Let nothing move you from those goals.

Next time we wish to look at maintaining balance when dealing with those who are not walking with the Lord, particularly family. How do we keep our interactions positive and pleasing to the Lord when they don’t share our faith?

I hope this is helpful and addresses some of the issues you face. Until we meet again, walk in the Spirit and may the peace of the Lord be with you.

Finding Balance in a World of Extremes-Part 1

Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection Pastor's Corner

This is a study of Genesis 1.
  1. Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection
  2. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
  3. Ecclesiastes: the Quest for Contentment
  4. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  5. Finding balance in a world of extremes

Throughout the past episodes of this study, we’ve dug deep into the Book of Ecclesiastes to discover what God recommends for us humans to have a good life. By a good life, God doesn’t mean one that is necessarily filled with love or trouble-free. What He means is a life that accomplishes its spiritual purpose while achieving a sense of natural fulfillment.

Image credit: SimplyPsychology.org

Just before going further, permit me for a moment to explain what I mean. In his book, Motivation and Personality, the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow taught that we humans have five levels of needs which govern many of our decisions. For those of you listening to this podcast, there’s a diagram of this hierarchy on the website: theLWBC.com.

At the top of the list is the need to reach your full potential as a person or, what Maslow called, self-actualization. I teach my students that it’s to be the best you that you can be.

Well, God was way ahead of Maslow. And in this book of wisdom, through Solomon, God teaches us principles such as finding fulfillment in life, work and relationships, understanding that life operates in seasons.

As we start to wind down our study of the Book of Ecclesiastes, I’d like to draw one theme from chapters 5-8. It is finding balance and learning contentment.

Over the next two messages we’ll focus on the first aspect: finding balance in a world of extremes.

Now, before we get started, remember to pause throughout this study, read through the scriptures and pick up when you’re ready to move forward. There’s no rush and I’d like to make sure you’re getting all the benefit from this that you can because it is important for your life.

Why is this important?

We live in a world of extremes. Extreme pleasure, extreme pressure, incredible wealth—where some can launch themselves into space whenever they want— and crushing poverty.

Against the backdrop of these social contradictions, God is trying to get a Bride who is in the world yet not a part of the world (John 18:36). Honestly, that is one of the biggest challenges a pastor faces in modern times. Preaching so that the people can live successful lives in a world that becomes increasingly ungodly by the hour, yet helping them to live more like the Word “in this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12), is difficult at best. But we are not discouraged and our hope is in the Lord.

One of the keys to navigating this complex age of Laodicea while striving for your overcomer’s crown is to find and maintain a balanced approach to your Christianity. By no means am I encouraging people to be lukewarm—those of you who know me know that nothing could be further from the truth—but I am encouraging you to walk in wisdom as Col.4:5 urges us.

So, what is spiritual balance?

Charles Blondin is probably the world’s most famous tightrope walker. In case you’re not familiar with the idea of tightropewalking, I want you to close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you’re crossing the Grand Canyon on a rope that is just two inches thick—without any belts or nets to catch you.

Blondin crossed Niagara Falls about 300 times on a tightrope and, on at least one occasion, he hauled a stove with him to the falls, lit a fire and cooked an omelet—all on a tightrope that was about 1,300 feet long and 2 inches thick.

I share this because that’s how I believe the Christian walks today. Hell is beneath us. The forces of evil are trying to push us from our Lifeline—the Word. Again, for a moment, just close your eyes and imagine a tightrope walker. Every move you make has to be balanced. Every step must be true.

To do anything else is to die.

Spiritual balance is the same thing. It is not letting yourself tilt toward the lukewarm, looseness of Satan’s Eden and neither is it allowing yourself to become overzealous and, ultimately, self-righteous. God warns Joshua of the same when He tells him not to go to the right hand or the left.

Just like with tightrope walking, it’s easy for us to sway to one side or the other. And so the Bible itself has advice for us.

Chapter 5 opens up with a warning to not be quick to promise God anything (Eccl. 5:1-7). Now this might seem strange as all who love the Lord should be happy to promise him anything—right? Well, not necessarily. The thing is, when you promise God something, He never forgets it and He holds you accountable for your words. Solomon shows us here that we must not let our love for the Lord get us into situations where we cannot keep what we promise. A balanced approach recognizes this and therefore focuses more on worship than making promises.

But balance goes beyond words into daily living. Let’s drill into this a little further. In this next section, I’d like to focus on keeping balance in our natural life and a few areas where the enemy tries or will try to get us off the straight path of the Word.

Natural balance

Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

Ecclesiastes 7:16-18

As we interact with the world on a daily basis, let us keep focused on our mission: hate the sin but love the sinner. Stand for the Word without compromising but do not seek conflict unless you are definitively led of the Holy Spirit to do so.

There’s a good saying that we can be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good. I recall a time when some married sisters didn’t want to make themselves attractive to their husbands because they were so given to living a holy life. Today, believers sometimes give off the idea that those who struggle with temptation are sinful when that is totally incorrect.

I’ve mentioned from behind the pulpit that we need to balance meeting our physical and emotional needs with bringing our body under subjection. There are times to give in to your body’s will and there are times to tell it a firm “no.” Now is a good time to bring this back to your remembrance while explaining a little further.

The Lord Jesus never focused on being too righteous—He focused simply on doing the Father’s will even though there were times that He was tempted to do what He wanted instead.

Christ showed us balance in all things. In terms of godly service, there were times when He pushed Himself the extra mile and there were times when He told His disciples to “Come aside and rest, (Mark 6:31).” At times He told the disciples to exclusively trust the Heavenly Father for protection (like Ezra of old in Ezra 8:22). But there came a time when He taught His disciples to sell their garments and buy swords (Luke 22:33-35). The gentle love Christ showed the lost was balanced by His fury when He beat the crowds out of the temple.

In like manner, we must accept that there are times we need to rely on the Spirit’s power and there are times we need to trust that the Spirit will work through our efforts. For example, there are times you must take medicine to get better and—when we appropriate the faith necessary—there are times when we won’t need medicine at all.

If you go to the extreme of always relying on medicine, your faith will be weak. But if you go to the other extreme of never taking it at all, without a solid revelation in your heart, you may die. Spiritual balance keeps our faith pure yet grounded in the realities of this world.

Let’s take another look at your life. You are called to be the Word but, like the Lord Jesus, you must balance that out with the fact that you are also human. Because of this, there will be times where we shake off the mental, emotional, sexual, and materialistic pressures of the age without much of a problem and there are times we will have to really do battle to overcome ourselves. And sometimes we’ll stumble and fall and need to cling to the cross to rise and do battle again.

I’m urging you to keep balanced in every area of your life as you look at yourself so you don’t get discouraged. On one hand you can go to the extreme of self-condemnation because you wonder why, as a child of God you’re struggling with ______X__________ (fill in the blank here). This is especially important if you’re going through a new phase in life and have never dealt with this kind of situation before. Think back to my message of Stages of Life. By condemning yourself, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up doubting Christ’s salvation in your life which means you’ll be doing the Devil’s job for him.

On the other hand, you can go like false Christians today and live without self-control, falsely claiming that the grace of God will atone for your lack of holiness and lack of faith. This leads to destruction. This is why the discernment of the Spirit and maturity that comes in Christ is something that all Christians must prioritize. As was well said, “we must lay in Christ’s presence and ripen.”

Jesus Himself maintained balance at all times.

On one hand, there were times that He gave into His body’s love for good food, so much so till the Pharisees criticized Him for being a glutton and a drunkard (Luke 7:34). The critics thought Christ really couldn’t be serious about a holy life if He ate and drank so much—especially in the company of prostitutes (Hmm…). Why, the Pharisees knew the body had to be constantly mortified and fasting should be done twice a week as per the publican (Luke 18:12). How could this Man be the Messiah and give into the love of food?

But you see there was also another side to Jesus. The side that brought that same body into subjection and fasted for 40 days and nights then overcame the temptation to transform stones into bread.

Balance, my brothers and sisters.

Here is what I want you to remember: when the situation demands a certain reaction, we must choose the path that will allow us to be the best that we can be in our current reality.

The Lord Jesus wasn’t the only one to demonstrate the need for balance in our daily natural and spiritual walk. Let’s turn our eyes now to Paul. This great Apostle to the Gentiles believed in divine healing so much that a poisonous snake’s venom couldn’t harm him and yet he knew take a doctor with him wherever he went. He also advised Timothy to pursue a physical cure for his stomach sickness without making mention of prayer. Obviously Paul trusted in prayer but he knew when to pray and when to take medicine.

The point is that we Christians need to find that place where we know we’re living according to the Word without overdoing it. This way, we can be the voices of wisdom that give an accurate picture of who our God is and what His nature is like.

Balance in times of tough choices

We all love the mountain top experiences, those times where the will of God is so clear and the fire of God obliterates all doubt like it did on the Mount Carmel showdown that I spoke of this morning. But as we near the Rapture, we have to realize the BIble predicts that the age will be one that is dismal, a time in which it’s often difficult to discern what is the right thing to do in our day-to-day life (see Zechariah 14:7). Let us remember that it’s in this final age that the Bride of Christ is in her maturity and should be spiritually mature enough to know WHAT God wants done even if He doesn’t outright tell us what to do.

That’s one side of things. On the other hand, sometimes the choices we have to make may not be the choice that we want to make as Christians. I hope that doesn’t stumble you.

We as genes of God often want to achieve something for the Lord or change something in our life but we are “encompassed by infirmity” and cannot accomplish it—at least, not at that moment. We then have to do the best that we can and pray, struggle, and trust the grace of God to bring us through.

Here’s what Paul said:

 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Romans 7:15-20

I love the Bible because it is so practical and doesn’t shy away from open, honest conversations that can help us all navigate a complex world.

Now, this scripture doesn’t mean that we don’t have to overcome but it does mean that we have to accept that there will be times we don’t get to have the clear-cut victory we’d like to have right away and sometimes ever in this life. There are some emotional and physical scars that linger even though God may forgive and we may have to struggle against them all our life. We’re designed this way so we can keep on our knees and always remember the grace that God has shown us.

I hope that’s clear. If not, write me a question and I’ll go into more detail.

The Balance between Christ’s strength and human weakness

There are Christians who try to live as though faith alone can solve all problems. That is not true. Faith must also be balanced by hope and love. In fact, love (which includes compassion) is greater than faith (see 1 Corinthians 13). And in every day living, faith must be balanced with wisdom. Brother Branham tells the story about a woman in midlife who’d been told by a minister that she had seven devils. Another minister told her she only had five. The poor woman almost went insane looking for devils in her stockings. Meanwhile, her home life was falling apart, her marriage was suffering. No doubt the ministers were sincere but faith without wisdom almost destroyed the woman and her family.

When God in His mercy began to reveal the woman’s condition, Brother Branham gave her some good advice.

34 I said, “Go home. Straighten up your house; cook your husband a nice, big, apple pie, about that thick. When he comes in tonight, throw both arms around him, kiss him, set down, and get on his lap, and tell him you love him, and live like a lady ought to.” That’s exactly. That’s all there is.

   55-0224 – Water From The Rock

You see the truth was that a natural stage of life—that every woman has to deal with in some way or another— was causing some emotional turmoil even though she was a Christian. And it is the truth that sets us free, not shouting, stomping, or even our prayer meetings. Deliverance comes from accepting the Word.

With that being said, it’s probably easy to understand how Romans 7:15-20 applies to us in a physical and spiritual sense, so let’s take an emotional example to look at this more closely.

Again, I’m going to reference a story Brother Branham told, this time about himself. He stated that he tried to commit suicide after losing his wife and child.

Now, suicide is something we might expect from a sinner, but Brother Branham was a Christian (filled with the Holy Ghost) at this point in his life. Not only was he a Christian but he was a minister. What did it? A lack of faith? Did he somehow lose the Holy Spirit?

Not at all. It was simply the strain of unrelenting grief. Christian or not, the mind can only take so much. Paul spoke about comforting the feeble-minded in the Body. He did not advise us to take the approach that they should “get over it.”

Now, I realize that I’m constantly challenging the beliefs you may have held, but again, my responsibility before the Lord is to teach the Word in such a way that you can navigate the complexities of this age. Laodicea is like no age that’s ever existed in human history. To overcome, you must be grounded in truth not tradition.

We say that the Holy Ghost is the keeping power but the Holy Ghost is to work through you and me. If we do not support other members of the body when they are tested, can we be surprised when they fall? On the other hand, if we are struggling and we let pride keep us from asking for help from the other members of the body, can we blame the church or the preacher when we find ourselves lost in sin? James 5:14 brings this out clearly.

By no means am I condoning suicide, but I am trying to help you understand the balance between what we should do as Christians and the choices we sometimes make. Suicide is flat out wrong, and is a sin in the eyes of the Lord for you “are the temple of the Lord (1 Cor. 3:16).” No one should destroy God’s temple.

But given that this body (and mind) is prone to weakness–especially in this age of stress and anxiety–it is important that we balance our faith with practical, healthy lifestyles, love for one another, and an awareness of our own human makeup so that we that limit Satan’s opportunities to attack us.

Let’s take another example just to drive this point home. Brother Branham later shares how his second wife, Sis. Meda, was really struggling with the ongoing demands of the ministry. People were camped out in the yard and running to the door claiming to have “Thus Saith the Lord” for her husband and family. Her house was a mess. Kids were screaming on the floor and dinner hadn’t been cooked.

Did that mean she wasn’t a Christian? Didn’t have the love of God?

No.

It was a perfectly normal human response. She snapped under the pressure and had a meltdown.

You see, it’s important that we balance our spiritual faith with a solid understanding of our makeup as humans and know what we can and cannot handle. Knowing your limits, while being willing to push them as you grow in Christ, will help you balance everything in this world.

As Christians, we need to be compassionate and recognize that we do need to support one another continuously with our words and prayer. There are cases where believers shy away from converts who are tattooed or struggle with temptations that came from their life in the world.

It is as though we know God has forgotten their past life in our minds but we who have never stood in their shoes can’t seem to move past it. This approach isn’t good and we must be careful lest we drive those who are trying to follow Christ back into the arms of Satan by our attitudes.

Let’s recap what we’ve discussed so far .

We’ve learned that:

  • The Book of Ecclesiastes is full of wisdom to help us live a good life
  • A good life is one that accomplishes God’s will while giving you a sense of fulfilment in your natural and spiritual life
  • One key element of a good life is maintaining spiritual and natural balance.
  • Like a tightrope walker, you must avoid going to the extreme of being lukewarm or the other extreme of being too zealous or self-righteous.
  • The Lord Jesus demonstrated perfect balance in His natural and spiritual life and Paul also gave a great picture of balance in his life.
  • Balance allows us to take the action that will allow us to be the best we can be in whatever scenario confronts us.
  • We must keep in mind the balance between Christian strength and human weakness.

Here’s a great spot to stop for today. Lord willing in our next message we want to look a little closer at this great topic and focus on maintaining our balance in our interactions with believers and those who don’t know Jesus Christ. . Until then, walk in the Spirit, love God and one other, and may God bless you.

Seasons of Change: Study on Ecclesiastes 3 & 4

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Eccelesiastes 3:1

In 1906, the world stood on the brink of war. While the world’s nations formed alliances and set the stage for WW1, the Holy Ghost was also on the warpath, baptizing souls and moving like a fire. It was a time of change.

Jennie Wilson, called the Fanny Crosby of the West, said it write when she penned the famous words,

Hold to His hand, God’s unchanging hand.
Hold to His hand, God’s unchanging hand.
Build your hopes on things eternal.
Hold to God’s unchanging hand. 

Jennie Wilson

It is said that the only constant is change. In other words, the fact that things change is the only thing that will never change. In the natural, to a certain extent, this is true.

Life is a great journey that’s filled with millions of moments. In each moment, we take a step toward something different, toward the person that we are becoming. But this journey is divided into larger chunks that Solomon calls seasons.

In Hebrew the word is Zeman and it means “a definite or appointed time.”

This is important because we often fail to realize that our life is divided into specific times for specific purposes in which God wishes to focus on a specific aspect of our natural or spiritual growth.

We often feel that the stage we’re at in life or what we’re doing will be forever. So we cling to things. To people. To our habits.

But if we’re not careful, we can end up limiting God and failing to achieve His purpose. Remember, God is involved in everything that involves you.

Like a score of music, there are specific moments where certain instruments must play certain parts. To continue to play the drums in a time where they are to be silent and a harp is to be quietly playing will only frustrate the listener. So is it in our life. We must recognize when God is changing things and embrace those changes.

Our natural life follows this pattern. Most kids think it takes forever to grow up. But that changes by the time we hit adulthood and our middle years. In young adulthood we think we’ll be strong and healthy forever. In midlife we’re often tempted to look back and wish we could be what we once were.

But again, God has a season and time for all things. We should not look back at what we were. Instead, let us look at what we are becoming. Remember that the road of life has bright spots and areas of shadow. We must pass through all of it successfully to make it to our destination or Heaven.

In Ecclesiastes 3, the Bible shows us that we must recognize the beginning and end of things, but if you’ll look carefully every verse shows us the opposite of what has been done. There is a time to get but also a time to lose. A time to hate and a time to love. Everything is the undoing of the other.

Why?

Often in life we face circumstances where we feel that our current actions are getting us nowhere, that we’re undoing or regretting the very thing that we once desired. But we need to realize that it’s all part of the stages of God. Part of making us more like Himself. As I said this morning, He is pulling us into in the image of Messiah.

Let me share a small testimony to make this a little clearer. As you all know I love to teach and dedicated almost 13 years of my life to my profession. Earlier this year, the Lord clearly showed me it was time to leave the field. I couldn’t understand and went into prayer. The Spirit directed me to the Bible and then began to show me a lesson I’d like to share with you.

I saw, as it were, a man planting vegetables in a garden. In the right season, all was well. There was a good harvest. But that same man planted vegetables–I believe it was pumpkin–in the wintertime. The ground was frozen, hard to break through and there was only a scraggly sprout that managed to spring up and die.

The question came to me: What made the difference? The answer was quite clearly the season.

Then the lesson became clear.

God operates in our lives accomplishing specific tasks at specific times. But when that season is over, He may make us tear down what we have built, not that it was wrong to build it but because now He wants us to move on…to do something different for Him. Remember, everything is for an appointed time (a season).

I hope this is speaking to your heart.

We so often limit God without intending to do so. We are like Martha who expected God to only raise the dead at the end of the world when He was ready to move at the season when she most needed it!

To be successful as a Christian, we must recognize what God wants from us at that time and be ready to accomplish it. But let us always remember that the God who told Philip to leave a revival and leave at a moment’s notice to do His will, is the God who may have a different path for you to follow than the one you’re currently walking.

The Lord Jesus came in the season of Redeemer to save those who were lost. But now the season has changed and He is coming to condemn the world, not save it. He is in sync with the Father’s plan and His mindset is perfectly in harmony with the Father’s will. Can you say the same?

When God changes dynamics in your life, when He chooses to allow trials to linger instead of giving you the quick victories you once had, when He asks you to give and then give some more without showing any indication that He’s about to bless you in return—is your mindset ready to adapt to whatever He has in mind at that particular season in your life?

Just remember that He does all things well and He is accomplishing a purpose. As the scripture goes on to say:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV

The purpose of each season may be hidden from us but it is enough to know that God has a purpose for each season of your life. So don’t get upset when things change in your body, or you’re not able to do what you once could. Give thanks instead for what you still can do while remembering that God has a purpose in allowing one season to finish and another one to begin.

He is God and He is in control.

Toward the end of Ecclesiastes 4, we see that God’s principle of seasons also applies to nations as well as individual lives. For example, Solomon gives a picture that is very similar to what actually happened to his own kingdom in verses 13-16. He writes,

13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 14 For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that youth who was to stand in the king’s place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Eccl.4:13-16

Now, if you think back for a few moments to what was happening in Israel around this time, you’ll see a powerful life lesson from this chapter.

Jeroboam was a young man who was raised by his widowed mother Zeruah. King Solomon saw his leadership qualities and put him in charge of the labor forces from northern Israel (Ephraim and Manasseh). Jeroboam realized that many in northern Israel were unhappy with the southern rule under Judah because of the heavy taxes they had to pay for Solomon’s ongoing building campaigns and his forced labor requirements.

It’s important to realize that Solomon (an old and foolish king as he refers to himself) had only become disconnected from his people’s realities after he got away from God (see 1 Kings 11:1-13). God warned Solomon that his kingdom would be lost due to his spiritual infidelity—that the season of united Israel’s prosperity was almost over.

The prophet Ahijah told Jeroboam that he would rule over the majority of Israelite tribes (1 Kings 11:29). This came to the ears of Solomon and he tried to kill Jeroboam who fled to Egypt then returned when Solomon was dead. Jeroboam publicly challenged Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and won the northern kingdom (see 1 Kings 12).

As Solomon predicted, Jeroboam’s reign was not a happy one. The two kingdoms broke into civil war and ultimately, Israel’s apostasy led to the Babylonian destruction.

But there is a lesson that I’d like to underscore today, and it is the fact that sometimes our attitude toward God can determine the outcome of a season in our life. Solomon’s reign began with a season of unparalleled prosperity but his loose attitude toward the Word (not taking advice as he says) led to an financial ruin, spiritual apostasy and the destruction of his empire.

In your life, always keep a close eye on your attitude toward the Word. A season of spiritual plenty can turn to a season of famine if God’s commands are ignored, even slightly. Also, if you’re in a spiritual dry season, check your attitude toward the Word. Humbling yourself before God can unlock the floodwaters from on high.

As the nation of Israel’s fate was turned based on one man’s attitude, so can the outcome of a specific season in your life be affected.

Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand. 

Jennie B. Wilson, 1906

In all things, hold to God’s unchanging hand and cling to the cross in every season.

body of water between green leaf trees

Ecclesiastes 2: Happiness & the Work-Life Balance

Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection Pastor's Corner

This is a study of Genesis 1.
  1. Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection
  2. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
  3. Ecclesiastes: the Quest for Contentment
  4. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  5. Finding balance in a world of extremes

Today I’d like to continue our study of the Book of Ecclesiastes. If you haven’t listened to the first part, Finding Meaning in Life, make time do so as it will lay a solid basis for where I’d like to go in this podcast.

Ecclesiastes is written to give us a very sobering reality check, one that we need if we want to live a good life. Today I’d like to focus on the following three questions:

  • Should my job determine how happy I am (or am not)?
  • What does the Bible say about keeping a work-life balance?
  • And, while we expect Christ’s return at any moment, should we consider the fact that we may die before He comes?

A man of extremes

As I said before, I believe King Solomon is the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes and God gave him extreme wealth, power, and influence to prove that all these things that we so often long for are meaningless. None of us will ever have the natural success that Solomon enjoyed, and that’s okay. God gave it to him—and ensured that we had record of it—to prove to us the foolishness of prioritizing things in this world. We can learn from Solomon’s example. To him was given extreme wisdom, what we now call spiritual discernment, and yet he also made critical mistakes that would cost his son a kingdom (see 1 Kings 12). Let’s learn the answers to our own big questions as we look at the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 2 starts off with Solomon purposing to discover what we humans should do with our lives. He goes on to detail how he invested himself in building projects, business, and entertainment—all of which are familiar to us. How often has the message that productivity leads to a fulfilled life been presented to us? Many times we Christians are tempted to lose ourselves in the projects we undertake—maybe our jobs, our family, or the blizzard of entertainment options that now exist.

And yet, nothing satisfies.

Solomon shows us in verse 11 that the very things he had spent years building up now became a source of frustration.

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

We know that money doesn’t bring happiness, but why do we then spend so much time trying to gain the next dollar? Paul told us to live simply. In 1 Timothy 6:8-10 he writes,

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

1 Timothy 6:8-10

The drive to earn money is at the heart of the most sinful and pervasive parts of our global culture. A 2019 market analysis on PR Newswire  put the pornography industry revenue in the U.S. at 35 billion dollars. Globally, some estimates put it at almost $100 billion annually.

In a 2019 study by the RAND Corporation, the illegal drug industry averages around $150 billion in the U.S. alone each year.

Now, if you’re listening to this podcast, the studies referenced are hyperlinked in the actual article at thelwbc.com.

I don’t need to talk about the harmful effects of both the porn drug and the literal drugs—we know both are addictive, shatter lives, and ruin self-respect. My focus today is on what God expects from you and me.

While the world clearly will go to any lengths to make money, God has clear boundaries about how much of a role work and the pursuit of money should play in the lives of His children. I want to identify two boundaries as we answer our first two questions.

Again, those questions are: Should my job determine how happy I am (or am not)? What does the Bible say about keeping a work-life balance?

First boundary:

The work you do should be meaningful but not give you a sense of meaning. Also, you should enjoy your work but not be made happy by it.

Let me explain what I mean.

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment[c] in his toil. “ (Ecclesiastes 2:25 NKJV).

Your job should be something you enjoy doing—not just something you do to pay the bills. Now, I realize this isn’t always possible and I’m not saying you’re sinning if you don’t like your job—believe me, I’ve been there too! But, no matter how long it takes, try to get yourself in a job that you enjoy because this is part of the blessing that God has for you in this world. It may also lengthen your life and your health by minimizing the negative effects of stress that you’ll otherwise face.

Solomon warns us against keeping a job you don’t enjoy or that is high-pressure when he says, “For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. (verse 23)”

Ever lose a night’s sleep because of your job? As a teacher, I have many times. But that’s not God’s plan. Neither is remaining in a toxic work environment.

Think about it: how many times do you complain about your job? Does it make you feel happy or emotionally refreshed to gripe about your supervisors or the demanding hours?

 Probably not.

 As the Bible shows us in Philippians 4:8, we Christians are called to keep our minds on things that are good and not meditate upon things that frustrate us. If we don’t, we’ll constantly have our spirit in turmoil which works against our health.

God’s Work-Life Balance

The work-life balance that God calls for requires us to leave our job at our job. When the people we work with, their personal problems, or the work itself continuously drains you (and I mean in a negative way emotionally or spiritually), it’s time to stop and ask God to either change the circumstance or make a way for you to leave. God’s plan for work is a job that we enjoy and work that allows us to rest easy at night with a clear conscience.

We can see this from the work environment that God provided for Adam. I have a hard time imagining Adam complaining to Eve at night about the stresses of gardening, especially when weeds and miniature terrorists called bugs didn’t exist—at least, not as we know now! Even in a perfect world, where Adam “worked from home,” everything all stopped at night when it was time to worship God, spend time with his family, and rest easy.

Now, let’s look back at the Ecclesiastes 2. I’m going to repeat that earlier verse but also read the following.

24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment[c] in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him[d] who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

Now, I mentioned that your work should be meaningful…but it should not give you meaning. I want to repeat that so you’ll be sure to get the difference. Your work should be meaningful but it should not give you meaning.

This is a big subject, that I’m going to slant toward the men in the audience for a moment, because, generally speaking, we tend to judge our self-worth by our accomplishments (which are often job related) more than women do.

Brothers, God expects us to do our best at our jobs but don’t let the drive to provide for yourself or your family consume you. Keep everything in balance.

Let me share a personal story. Like most of you know, in 2016 I left my job because of my Christian principals. As painful as it was to separate from students I genuinely cared about, the hardest part was dealing with the fact that I had no idea what to do next. Without realizing it, I was equating my own self-worth with being a teacher. When that was taken from me, I floundered in depression for several years. Somewhere in the chaos of my churning emotions, our gracious Lord opened my eyes to understand where I had been erring.

You see, like many others, I depended on my job to give a sense of meaning to my life. Teaching. Coaching. Encouraging. Correcting. It’s all part of my nature. But, while those are natural human tendencies that God placed within me for His purpose, God calls us to draw every scrap of our sense of meaning from Him alone. And, through this experience, He showed me that I subconsciously gave to my work what belonged to Him.  

 Remember, the very God-given aspects of your character can work against you if you don’t constantly keep an eye on them. For example, a caring, open-hearted person can be drawn into a wrong relationship if he/she doesn’t keep that part of his/herself under control.

Now let me swing this thought over to my sisters.

Women often draw their sense of meaning from their relationships (romantic or otherwise). But what if all that was unexpectedly stripped away from you? What if you lost every person you ever cared about or your friends and family decided to shun you? Would you still feel that your life mattered?

It would. It does.

Sometimes the service that is done to others is what fuels a woman’s sense of meaningfulness, giving her a sense of value because she feels needed. But, remember Sister, your true value lies in simply who you are—not what you do. As a daughter of the King, who is living a surrendered life to your Heavenly Father, your true value comes from being His light in this dark world. Think of Martha who found meaning in serving others while Mary found meaning in her spiritual relationship to Christ.  Both were good women but one, Mary, had truly grasped the understanding of a valuable life.

Which woman are you?

Please understand that it is right and good to serve others, and it is totally normal for that spark good feelings within us as Christians, but again that isn’t the source of our life’s value—it is an expression of it.

Men and women, if the day comes that you can’t work because of a disability or serve because the relationships in your life no longer exist , you can still have a meaningful life if you draw meaning only from God.

You see, as long as we draw meaning from anything else but Christ Himself, we Christians are vulnerable. Our enemy will have the power to disrupt our minds and our lives until we accept that our life is meaningful because Christ is revealing Himself to us and through us.

Remember the Scripture, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).

 As long as we have Christ… everything else will be alright.

The last thing I want to point out from this beautiful chapter is Solomon’s reminder that our work and efforts are all temporal.

You may remember King Henry 8th of England, the Tudor monarch who married 6 times and had some of his wives beheaded in his relentless pursuit of a legitimate male heir. After endless intrigue, assassinations, family divisions and war, this family line died out when Henry’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth refused to marry. Perhaps that’s not too surprising, given that her father executed her mother!

The point is, all his efforts to build a kingdom fell due to the choices of someone who lived after him. How many thousands died in war and civil strife to preserve a kingdom that would would only last about 120 years?

It was temporal.

The same can be said of our work, be it government, healthcare, business etc. You can devote 30 years of your life to an organization and they may never promote you. Or, if you’re a manager or VP the day will come where you’ll have to retire and someone else will simply take your place. So how much does that contribute to a good life in the end?

Because of this inability to control what happens after we leave our jobs or even this world, Solomon realized that life is meaningless if we define it by our work. As he writes in verse 18-20:

“Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.

20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-20

When we live with this reality constantly in our thoughts, it will make us cut back on those late hours at the job and devote more time to aspects of life that really matter. Instead of getting more things off our to-do lists, we’ll think more about what we put on our lists.

Instead of fitting God into our schedule, we’ll give Him more of our attention. Instead of surrounding ourselves with people who carry toxic atmospheres, we will replace them with people who will reinforce our faith and deepen our fellowship with each other OR use our time with them to point them to the better life Christ offers.

Finally, Solomon reminds us that life is brief. Now, as Christians who live in the shadows of the Coming of Christ, we believe that He will come before our life is over. But that is not guaranteed.

Many sometimes feel that it is a lack of faith to have things such as life insurance or a Will, but that is not written in Scripture and therefore should not be taught. If you have been born again, your soul is immortal (for God’s life dwells within it) but your body is not. Ecclesiastes 2:14 and many other scriptures tells us that all die:

14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 2:14

Therefore, outside of a Simeon-like experience—with God promising you that you will not die until Christ returns—keep in mind that you can leave this world at any time and make appropriate preparations both spiritually and naturally.

The Bible keeps repeating this theme of a temporal life. I believe God knows our nature as humans—without constant reminders we become oblivious to our reality and will treat life as though we are immortal. Even with tombstones all around us, and terrorism claiming lives each day, billions still live without thinking about their coming appointment with a furious God.

But if you remember that life is temporal, you can make the choice to live for Him and also to make each moment of your natural life as full and vibrant as possible.

 Do you have a dream you’ve been putting off? Why not start the journey? An activity that you’ve been wanting to do? Get going!

 We weren’t just born to pay bills and die. Making each moment vibrant, as God’s Word allows, is all part of having a good life.

Next time we want to delve into Ecclesiastes 3. Why does life have phases? How do those phases affect us and how can we Christians navigate them while living in an ungodly world?

Until then, live simply, live well, and may God bless you.

Ecclesiastes 1: Finding meaning in life

Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection Pastor's Corner

This is a study of Genesis 1.
  1. Walk in the Word #1: From Chaos to Perfection
  2. The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
  3. Ecclesiastes: the Quest for Contentment
  4. Finding Balance in a world of Extremes Part 2
  5. Finding balance in a world of extremes

I’d like to begin a short series on the Book of Ecclesiastes that I trust will help us live victorious lives. First, let’s get a bit of background.

About Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes is considered one of the three main Wisdom Books of the Bible. The other two are Job and Proverbs. Some people include Psalms and Song of Solomon into the category of Wisdom Books because they also deal with important daily aspects of human life. While all of God’s Word is full of wisdom, these books together give us divine insight into some of life’s toughest questions.

I am one of those who believe Solomon wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes for a number of reasons. He must have written this book in his middle or later years of life given the reflective tone and amount of work that he had completed prior to being inspired to pen these words.

Ecclesiastes is a powerful book that doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of the road of life. It is not intended to be one of those books that make you shout the victory per se like Ephesians or Psalms might. It is intended to change our thinking from ordinary human perspectives of life to God’s divine perspective. It’s intended give you a very blunt and practical picture of your relationship to God.

While some might consider Ecclesiastes depressing, if you look at it as part of God’s inspired Word that has been preserved for your welfare, you will discover practical truth that will help you live a good life. When I say a good life, I don’t mean a trouble-free life. I mean a God-honoring life that you can feel has been well-spent at the end of it all.

As we explore these sacred pages chapter by chapter, may the Spirit of God help you apply these truths to your own circumstances.

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

Most people have trouble defining life. What is life? Cells? An ongoing search for purpose that lasts until death?

God answers that question in one word: meaningless.

Now, at first glance, that might sound rather depressing. Life is meaningless? Not exactly. You see, life is God’s greatest gift. But it is how we spend our lives that is often meaningless. Everything we do—our daily tasks, our jobs, our pursuit of relationships—in the grand scheme of eternity, is all temporal and will pass away.

For example, let me ask you a question: who was the wife of the Roman Emperor Augustus? Unless you are a lover of history, you probably don’t know he was married to Empress Livia and two other women. Augustus once ruled the civilized world. He was one of the most important men in world history and his wife (Livia) was a powerful force in her time. But today, they are unknown to most of the global population.

The point is, it doesn’t matter how much you achieve in this life for death swallows up even the memory of the powerful. If the world were to last 100 more years, Jeff Bezos will be nothing more than a dim memory. Today, many may envy his success. But tomorrow? He may be a statue in a museum, lost among many others.

It is all meaningless and God wants you to know that. Why? So you don’t fall into the Laodicean trap of focusing on how many things you can acquire or how many hours you can put into the job.

A good life isn’t defined by the number of your natural “accomplishments”— it is defined by the depth of your spiritual walk with Christ.

How beautifully this coincides with the Lord Jesus’s words:

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29).

Let’s look deeper.

Meaningful meaninglessness

The popular notion is that you are successful if you clock in 50+ hours at the job each week—while juggling a few side-gigs and kids. If you’re really successful, you get to add the pressures of a social position on top of that. And if you’re absolutely heroic, you can add on a few houses that you’ll stuff with things you will only use a few times in your life.

You know that’s true. Now, I’m not preaching minimalism although I am, to a some extent, a minimalist at heart. I am stating that our idea of “a good life” is totally contrary to what God intended and science is coming around to realizing what the Bible has been saying for more than 3,000 years.

In May 2021, the World Health Organization released an article which stated that,

Long working hours led to 745 000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000…

World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization

Clearly, man’s idea of productivity is not God’s idea of a good life.

Knowing this age would come, He teaches us from the very first words of this chapter are here to turn our eyes away from this near-sighted view of incessant productivity.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do your best at your job or have high aspirations for your life—you should!

But, to lead a good life, you must keep everything in balance and always remember that whatever you’re striving for will ultimately no longer make you happy.

What is happiness?

God designs life in a way that happiness would be elusive. He made contentment something you must learn so that His children will continue to seek Him. God knows that, if work , relationships or the things of this world were all satisfying then we would never come to Him.

Think about it: what drove you to Christ in the first place? Wasn’t it a dissatisfaction with what you had? We all came from different places and have had different journeys to the Cross. But none of us were happy with the kind of lives we were leading or else we would have remained in that condition. As Paul said in his letter to the Hebrews:

 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:14-16

By God’s order, we who are pilgrims turn our attention away from the meaningless attractions of the modern world in order to find true satisfaction in Him.

The thread of imperfection

The Persians were (and still are) known for their gorgeous rugs. But the weavers would deliberately make a mistake or weave in a thread that was out of place because they believed that only God could be perfect. As such, nothing man creates should be perfect.

I believe God Himself applies this principle to our lives, creating scenarios that leave us a little empty or dissatisfied. Sometimes this is with our family, our children, or with events in our life that we couldn’t control.

We sometimes think that we’d be happy if we could only achieve a certain milestone. But, after you achieve it, you realize that after a while that you need something more.

So, God teaches us that in order to have a good life, we must first realize that the things we fight so hard to gain are simply meaningless.

When you come to terms with this reality then you’re in a position to really understand the true, meaningful beauty that life offers.

An age of contradictions

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

Here the Scripture shows us that, not only are we temporary but so is our impact on the world around us. Nature runs in a circuit with no permanent resting place. In like manner, none of us can have any truly change the world on a permanent basis. This is why we continue to have global crises in, what I call, an Age of Contradictions.

Think about it:

We live in a world where technology allows us to connect with ease yet people have never been so disconnected and without empathy. Everywhere, people talk about love yet our streets and grocery stores are filled with senseless acts of violence. Mass production and technology allows much of the Western world to live in comfort yet so many in America are homeless, and are without to running water. Obesity is a disease in North America while around the world billions live in starvation. Americans have tech-saturated classrooms yet 21 percent of Americans cannot read.

These problems and more persist despite the efforts of global organizations, church groups, aid societies and countless hours of volunteering.

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

Nothing we do is truly lasting or can satisfy. But does that mean we should we stop our efforts to do good in the world?

Absolutely not. We should brighten the corner where we are and do all we can with what we have.

Let us realize that while we cannot permanently affect society as a whole, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of other temporary mortals around us. A good life draws meaning from serving others in Christ’s stead.This is what gives meaning to an otherwise meaningless life.

Mental refresher

Let’s pause for a moment and recap what we’ve touched on in this chapter before moving forward. So far we’ve learned:

  • Our actions in daily life are meaningless
  • True meaning comes from focusing on the spiritual instead of the natural
  • God uses dissatisfaction to make us seek Him more
  • We cannot permanently alter the world but we can deeply impact others for good or evil

Why does the world have so many problems?

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

I’d like to touch on three things in this segment: brevity, the heart of man, and the coming Kingdom of Christ.

First: God shows us that we are only here for a brief moment. Our lives are, as David said, “a handbreadth” (Ps. 39:5). We must therefore give urgent heed to God’s call for our life and not delay to fulfill whatever He has commissioned us to do.

A good life revolves around the understanding that we only have this moment and are not guaranteed the next. How you spend that moment will depend upon the condition of your heart. Which brings me to my next point: the heart of man.

Second: the heart of man. People often wonder why there are still so many problems in the world. The answer is simply that humanity has never changed its collective heart. We still have the same core issues as our ancestors did since the Fall. Our languages and cultures may be different than that of the early peoples but we still have hate, lust, greed and slander. In short, “there is nothing new under the sun” because we keep repeating a vicious cycle of destruction, renewal, corruption and destruction— a cycle that is propelled by the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10).

On a global scale, the hardness of the human heart led to the Great Flood (see Romans 1:18-32). He is the One that brought the world from chaos and can send it back to chaos anytime He chooses.

Spiritually, remember that just as it took a Creator to set these laws of sun, wind and water in motion, so will it take a Creator to bring order to a chaotic world. This is why the world is descending more into chaos—since the Flood, humanity has run back toward a world that refuses to let Christ (the Creator of Order) have any control. Which brings me to my final point: the coming Kingdom.

Third: the Kingdom of Christ. The Bible tells us that the disorder of this world must happen to allow for the perfect rule of Jesus Christ. Now, think for a moment how many times humanity has gone through this cycle of rebirth and destruction as I outlined it above. City after city and empire after empire have followed this pattern. As Hebrews 13:14 testifies, “For here we have no abiding city, but we seek that which is to come.”

We are so privileged to be living at the end of the world because the final change of rulership, from Man’s Day to God’s Day, is about to take place. This will end the cycle and bring about something that is new—Christ dwelling in flesh among all His redeemed children.

Final thoughts

Let’s wrap up our study today with Solomon’s efforts to discover the meaning of life. Remember, these men of the Bible went through these profound—and often traumatic situations—for your benefit.

12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.

13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

I want you to realize that when Solomon was given the “spirit of wisdom,” he was actually given what we call prophetic discernment. Like the Lord Jesus (who he foreshadowed), Solomon told the people the secrets of their hearts. For example, when the Queen of Sheba came to him, the Queen didn’t need to ask Solomon her questions—he told her what she came to ask him.

And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.

1 Kings 10:3

This shouldn’t be surprising. We who believe this End-Time Message know that God did the same through Brother Branham about 50 years ago. God is simply showing us time and again that He doesn’t change and He, the Word, is still a “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” In 1 Corinthians 12:8, Paul also referred to this gift as wisdom and knowledge.

So, Solomon, this man with such a tremendous gift led Israel to a time of prosperity and dominion like they had never known before. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that he saw “everything that was done under the sun. ” So, what can we draw from these verses?

15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting (or lacking) cannot be numbered.

Right away we see the need for the new birth. We were all born fallen, or crooked, and can therefore cannot lead a “good life” without God setting us straight no matter how hard we try. Since we were born crooked, we cannot be made straight. Reformation and rehab can only go so far. Since we were born lacking godliness or any good virtue, we cannot therefore count anything good from our lives—unless we are reborn.

In Solomon’s time the New Birth was not a reality so the poor prophet could only have “vexation of spirit” as he looked across humanity. What a blessing it is to know that now God has a way of dealing with the situation. He doesn’t straighten out the crooked nature—He destroys it altogether and gives us a divine nature called the Holy Ghost that leads us straight to Heaven.

But that blessed outpouring would only strike the Earth about 1,000 years after Solomon’s death. So he tried to find meaningful living in the same futile manner that many do today—by doing whatever makes them happy.

16 I 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.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

With all respect to which he is due, Solomon became what we would call an epicurean—someone who tries to find meaning in life by indulging in whatever he or she wants. The sad reality is, he never found it and neither will you.

Imagine you’re King Solomon for a year. In one year, the Bible tells us, Solomon received 666 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:14) besides what the craftsmen and traders brought in. Most biblical scholars place a talent as weighing between 75-100 pounds by our modern weight. To be conservative, let’s go with 75 pounds. If you are King Solomon, each year you would receive 49,950 pounds of gold besides what the businessmen paid in tribute. At the time I am writing this article, the price of gold is $1,877.64 (US) per troy ounce. Assuming the rate remained constant, if you were King Solomon, your revenue from gold investment would be almost 94 million USD per year. With an estimated net worth of $2 trillion, Solomon was in a great position to be happy—or so we would think. By contrast Bill Gates in 2021 would be a pauper with a net worth of 126.8 billion USD at the time of this writing.

There’s a popular myth that makes people think that getting whatever you want makes you feel good. No, that only makes you more dissatisfied.

Now, remember, God let this man follow this road to nowhere so that you would not do the same. Christ’s whole intention is to stamp out all humanistic thinking from our lives by the power of His Word so that we might find true, lasting satisfaction in Him.

To live a good life, you must get used to not giving yourself what you want when you want. Frankly, Jesus commands us to live a life of self-denial if we want to be His disciples (Luke 9:23).

Solomon showed us that meaning doesn’t come from gaining or enjoying this world’s goods. He taught us that it is all a meaningless illusion that only one thing can fix—a deep abiding relationship with Christ in which He opens more of Himself to you each and every day.

We talked about a lot of things in this first chapter, so let’s recap. And I encourage you to go through this again and read the scriptures that I’ve referenced while considering how you can apply them to your own life.

Mental recap #2

  • We are only here for a moment but our influence can impact others for their lifetime and hopefully beyond.
  • Because the heart of humanity doesn’t change neither will our core problems
  • We are blessed to live when the Kingdom of Christ is about to come into existence. He will bring something new to this fallen world.
  • The New Birth is the only way of straightening out a crooked creation. Reformation will only go so far.
  • Solomon was in a position to have whatever he wanted, yet he still was plagued by dissatisfaction.
  • Getting what we want doesn’t lead to a good life. Deepening our relationship with Christ will lead to a good life.

Next week we want to look at Ecclesiastes chapter 2 while focusing on the following questions: What does the Bible teach about the work-life balance? Should we, the Bride, consider the fact that we may have to face death? Should my job define my life or my level of happiness?

God bless you.