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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
God still expects you to love them as He loves
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
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,
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.
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.
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.