Riches Never Satisfy

Reading the Word

Ecclesiastes 4:7–9 (ESV)
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun:
8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Life “under the sun” is the topic of Ecclesiastes. What is the purpose and meaning of life from the secular perspective? In today’s reading, we are presented with the picture of a person who has no family. He has neither “son or brother”. This man works and finds financial success, but is never satisfied with his riches. Instead, he asks himself, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” Solomon concludes that, from the secular perspective, this is all meaningless and unfulfilling.

For life to have meaning we need relationships. So many people try to find joy and happiness in wealth and material possessions, but those things can never truly fulfill us. There must be more. We need others in our lives, whether they be family or close friends. And we need a relationship with our Creator, the one who created us in his own image in order that we might enjoy fellowship with him. The good news is that God wants a relationship with us, which is why we have his word that teaches us all about him. Take the time to read your Bible and establish the most important relationship you could ever desire.


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We Need Friends

Reading the Word

Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.(Proverbs 27:10, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

To understand this passage, we must take all of the verse together. The instruction to not go to a brother’s house during a time of calamity is connected to forsaking friends. We should not bypass the help of a friend to go to family in times of trouble. The second half of the passage reinforces this understanding by reminding us that a neighbor that is near is better than a family member who is far away.

Fostering relationships outside of family is not only necessary to share the Christian message of the gospel, but it is also wise and beneficial. This may be more true now than even when this proverb was written. We live in a much more mobile world and it is quite common for people to live where they are separated from their family by great distances. Given this separation, we need to build other support structures, which includes friends and neighbors.

Have you spent the time to build friendships? Such relationships have many benefits, including having a support system when needed. Do you have friends and neighbors that you could turn to if something happened? Could they turn to you? Take the time to build those relationships. We all need them and family is not always able to fill the role.


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We Need Others

Reading the Word

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.(Proverbs 17:17, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

An important observation to make in interpreting this proverb is that the first half and second half are using synonymous parallelism. This means that “friend” and “brother” are not being used to contrast against each other, but the two are being used to stress deep, intimate relationships. The proverb is saying that those we are in close relationship with, like a true friend or a family member, love us and support us in all situations, including times of adversity.

Going through difficult times is hard. Having someone close to you in those times can make all the difference. This is what true friendship and family support is designed to be like. It is also what our church relationships should provide. Do you have the close relationships that help you through times of adversity? Give thanks to God for those bonds. If you do not, pray that God would bring those people into your life and look to be that person for others.


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The Importance of Heritage

woman and child sitting on fur covered bed

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

2 Timothy 3:14–17 (ESV)

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Heritage is important. The person you are today is greatly shaped by the people who have been in your life in the past, especially your family. Paul reminds Timothy of this important truth and tells him to hold onto the things he has learned and to remember those he has learned from. Timothy’s teachers have included Paul himself, Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice (cf. 1 Timothy 1:5).

Who are the people who have most influenced you? Have you thought about how your influence effects others? Heritage is a powerful and important piece of who we are. Let’s be aware of how we have been shaped so we can hold onto what is good and let us also think about how our lives shape others. Let us determine to show love and always be pointing to Christ.

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Family Ties

Luke 1128 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 11:27–28 (ESV)

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

A woman commented that Jesus’ mother was surely blessed because she had Jesus as a son. We must be careful not to misunderstand what this woman was saying. Of course, children are a blessing to their parents. Mary was blessed in that way. However, the woman meant something more. In Jesus’ day, there was a great emphasis placed on family lineage and women found a great deal of value in the sons that they bore. For Mary to have a son like Jesus, she was surely blessed!

Jesus’ response was that biological connections are not what is important. The one who hears the word of God and does it is the one who is truly blessed. Our relationship with God does not come through our family tree, it comes from each individual’s response to the word of God. We must not think that our relationship with God is based on anything our parents, grandparents, or children have done. Each and every one of us must decide what we will do with the word of God that tells us of our sin and the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. Those who are blessed will hear the word, repent of their sins, and trust in Jesus Christ.

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Unless the Lord Builds the House

newly make high rise building

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Reading the Word

Psalm 127:1–5 (ESV)

1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate

Understanding and Applying the Word

What are you counting on for success? If you are counting on your own efforts and abilities, you labor in vain. It is God alone who gives blessing and success. This is a difficult truth for many of us to accept because we want to take credit for the good things in our lives. But a proper understanding of who God is will lead us to praise and thanksgiving for all he has done for us.

The second half of this psalm stresses that even our children are a blessing from the Lord. They are a blessing to parents and they too are in the hands of the sovereign God. This is a great comfort to parents because we can trust the One who is over all as our children grow, mature, and begin to live independently as adults. It is God who builds the house and protects the city. Let us not be anxious while trusting in ourselves, but let us rest in his loving care.

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