Acts 7:26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

This free daily devotional is scheduled to resume on November 7th.


Abraham said the same to Lot when there was strife between their herdsmen: “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8).

The address which Moses here makes to the two Hebrews who were fighting each other and Abraham to his nephew Lot should be applied to all contending brethren: “Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

Generally, the word “brothers” is used to indicate individuals who have the same parents. We also speak of brothers in the faith, since we share the same faith. Our Lord says: “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50). In this one statement, our Lord places all who are of the same faith into one family. Paul concurred and wrote in agreement with the Lord that we should treat the aged men as fathers, the aged women as mothers, the younger men as brothers and the younger women as sisters (1 Timothy 5:1-2). We are one family in the Lord.

In Genesis chapter 4, we are introduced to the first pair of brothers and we see the elder killing the younger and ever since that time, brothers (sisters included) have been at odds with each other (Genesis 4:1-8).

Why? There are many reasons. But it all boils down to this three letter word called “EGO.” “EGO is a three letter word that kills a twelve letter word called RELATIONSHIP.”

James wrote: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1).

Selfishness, that’s what James is saying. Selfishness is ego in action. It is all about self-pleasing. But a harmonious relationship thinks of others. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4).

Whether it is between husband and wife, among siblings and friends, or in church, loving and respecting the other individual is the first step toward a peaceful relationship. It takes “two to tango” and likewise, it takes two to maintain a harmonious relationship. As long as there are two persons in the same room, there will be conflicts. Therefore, how should the Christian resolve this conflict?

  1. Recognise that we are brethren. We are the family of God. Family will have differences among its members; but family sticks together. The words of Abraham should always ring in our minds when we are having conflicts with each other: “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee … for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8).
  1. Recognize we are Christians. How should a Christian conduct his life? With love, of course! Our Lord says: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). The scripture says: “He who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). A Christian who says he loves God but hates his brother is a liar (1 John 4:20).

A loving relationship is one that forgives, is tolerant, patient, kind, humble, not selfish, and does not hold any resentments (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Paul admonishes: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another,” (Romans 14:19).

The scripture says: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). It means we are to do our best to live peaceably with all men. Sometimes it cannot be done but it should be because of the other party and not us; the Christian should desire peace with all men, especially our brethren.

Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?” Instead of be wrong one to another, let us seek to be right with one another: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

Jimmy Lau

Psa 119:97  Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Spacecraft Friendship 7

ON FEBRUARY 20, 1962, at 9:47 A.M., the spacecraft Friendship 7 rose on a pillar of fire, piloted by lone astronaut John Glenn…


Leaving the coast of Florida far behind, the space capsule orbited the earth three times, traveling 81,000 miles in less than four hours.  As the craft began its descent from space, mission controllers in Houston received a warning signal:  A sensor indicated that the capsule’s heat shield was in danger of detaching.  If the heat shield came loose during re-entry, the capsule would burn like a meteor–and John Glenn would die.


There was no way to fix the problem in space.  The capsule was already approaching the outer fringe of the atmosphere.  As the tiny spacecraft fell toward Earth, the heat shield glowed red-hot–then white hot.  Soon, a hot cloud of ionized gas particles called plasma surrounded the capsule.  Because radio waves cannot penetrate plasma, the spacecraft experienced a total communications blackout–what astronauts and mission controllers call a “black hole” (not to be confused with the black holes that form in space when a star collapses).


The minutes crawled by and the suspense mounted in the Houston control room.  NASA engineers felt totally helpless.  Finally, after five minutes of silence, mission controllers heard Glenn’s voice crackling over the radio: “Friendship 7 to Houston–“


Shouts of joy shook the control room.  John Glenn was coming home.  


It turned out that the warning signal had come from a faulty sensor.  Although neither Glenn nor the mission controllers knew it at the time, the heat shield was absolutely firm and reliable.  The fears for John Glenn’s safety during this black hole experience were unfounded.


If you’ve ever been through a Joseph Pit experience (cf. Genesis 37), you probably know what a communications “black hole” feels like.  While you are in the pit of adversity, you feel that your world is collapsing, that your life is out of control–and that God is silent.  You call out to Him and there is no answer.  The silence of a black-hole is deafening.  You feel isolated and alone.  You question God’s love, His care for you, and even His existence.


But even when it seems that God is distant and silent, when you feel you are in a black hole of isolation and loneliness, your “heart shield” is still there, firm and reliable.  In your black hole experience, God is teaching you to go deeper into your relationship with Him.  You may think that your life is out of control and burning like a meteor, but in reality God, your heat shield, still protects you from the fiery forces that surround you.  O. Hillman, “The Black Hole,” The Upside of Adversity, 45-46


“But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”  Psalm 3.3

–Mike Benson

Shelter in the Storm

A young man named Gus was taking a walk through the English countryside one day in 1753 when a sudden storm swept across the landscape. Running for cover, he spotted a wide rock formation with an opening where he sought shelter until the storm passed. He had been fortunate to find this hiding-place so quickly, and he began to muse on the connection between his shelter and God’s help in life’s storms.

And as he contemplated this scenario, the words for a poem began to form in his mind, but he had no paper on which to write them. Looking down on the floor of the cave-like structure, he saw a playing card — considered a sinful thing by the young cleric. Nevertheless, he picked it up and began to formulate his thoughts and write them onto the card.*

The life of the writer of those words, Augustus Toplady, was cut short by tuberculosis, and on August 11, 1778 he passed from this life. He was buried in Tottenham Court Chapel in London. A “memorial stone” was erected in his memory. And on this stone was inscribed the words that he had jotted down on a playing card some years before;

Rock of ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy riven side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure,

Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

These words are part of a poem that has become a beloved Christian hymn: “Rock of Ages.”  Toplady took his experience of finding shelter in a storm and made application to the Shelter that provides salvation from sin…

Just as Gus found shelter under a rock formation, even so you and I may find “shelter” (forgiveness and life) from the “storm of sin” in the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.

Jesus endured God’s wrath (storm) against sin on our behalf by dying on the cross.  He paid the price for our redemption (Ephesians 1:7).  Through Him, we receive the “double cure”: through His blood we are cleansed from the guilt and dominion of sin.

We find shelter in the Rock of Ages when we: place our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27).

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto You, When my heart is overwhelmed:

Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

— Psalm 61:2

Won’t YOU find shelter in the Rock of Ages by trusting and obeying Him today?

Mike Eddlemon and David A. Sargent

* Excerpt from This England Magazine – 1988 Winter Issue

Three Surprises in Heaven

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'” (Matthew 7:21,22, ESV).

Not everyone will make it to heaven. What is more, not everyone who looks and sounds religious will make it to heaven. Many whom we consider “Christian” may not make it; many who consider themselves Christians may not make it. Don’t you hear surprise in the voices of those who respond, “Lord, Lord, did we not …”

They didn’t make it, and they didn’t see that coming!

C.S. Lewis once declared that there would be three surprises in heaven: “Who’s there; who’s not; and the fact that you’re there.”

There may be some people I was not impressed by who quietly lived their Christianity, and who made it to heaven. Certainly God knew more about their hearts’ condition than I. There may be some who impressed me, who made a fine show of their religion who are not there; God knew the condition of their hearts, too. And if I am there, I can at least reflect on the truth that it was God’s grace that allowed me in.

So the lesson to learn here is, if you feel confident of your being accepted into heaven … you might be one of those who do not. In Jesus’ declaration there were some who had presumed upon God. They would “prophesy,”

“cast out demons,” “do many works” in Christ’s name.  They looked like ducks, walked like ducks, but they couldn’t swim!

Please note the criterion for acceptance: “The one who does the will of (the) father in heaven.” When God makes his requirements clear, we need to comply. When the Lord directs, we need to follow.

Make sure that when you get to heaven, there will only be two surprises. Who’s there, and who’s not. Make sure you are there.

— by Stan Mitchell

Act 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Peter was preaching Christ at a place known as Solomon Porch. He told the Jews that it was because of ignorance that they crucified Jesus Christ, their Messiah. But now that they had come to know Jesus as the Christ, he commanded them to repent and be converted that their sins might be blotted out.

Repentance means a change of mind. Now that they are convinced that Christ is the Messiah, let their minds be changed, and their hearts remorse for crucifying Him. Then, let them be converted. To convert means to turn back. It is to turn about from a heart of unbelief to belief.

True repentance involves a change of mind that follows by a change of action (conversion). There is a false sorrow for sin that is more of a sorrow for the consequences of the sin, like a thief that is not sorry that he stole, but that he got caught and is now in jail. A husband may be sorry that he has hurt his wife and children but still chooses to leave them for another woman. But repentance means the thief and the cheating husband realize they have done wrong and make up their minds not to do it again. Conversion means they stop their sinful deeds.

True repentance will always bring about true conversion. And true conversion will bring about a change of life! The parable of the prodigal son involves true repentance and conversion. The prodigal son came to himself (REPENTANCE) and made a complete turn-around and return to his father (CONVERSION).

Conversion involves two things:



The prodigal son TURNED FROM his error of ways and TURNED UNTO the path of righteousness. When a person changes his direction, he must turn away FROM the way he was going, and he must turn UNTO a new direction. A driver who finds that he has made a wrong turn (go the wrong way) will need to turn back (go the right way). He has to TURN FROM the wrong way and TURN UNTO the right way.

James says that if a Christian brother should err from the truth (GO THE WRONG WAY), then he needs to BE CONVERTED (GO THE RIGHT WAY) (James 5:19).

Unfortunately, there are Christians who remain unconverted. They call themselves Christians, but their lifestyles are no different from those of unbelievers. The Christians at Corinth were guilty of behaving like the people of this world and Paul wrote of them: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1).

The meaning of “carnal” is “belonging to the flesh.” The scripture gives some descriptions of the works of the flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies,” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV).

Paul says the Christian who is truly converted (spiritual) will put to death those things and put on Christ (Colossians 3:5-10). They have to TURN FROM a life that is still living in sin and TURN UNTO Christ. They have to PUT OFF the fleshly deeds and PUT ON the new man which is created after the image of Christ (Colossians 3:10).

True conversion requires a complete change and not a cosmetic touch up. It is to walk in newness of life Romans (6:4). It is a new life in Christ and hence, it is called a rebirth (John 3:3-5). A Christian who is truly converted is born again. It means a complete change. It is a transformation (Romans 12:2). A caterpillar that has been transformed into a beautiful butterfly has undergone a complete change.

Have you been converted? Have you put on the new man? Are you walking in newness of life? Let us be truly converted and walk like Christ: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24).

Have you crucified the flesh with its passions and desires?

Jimmy Lau

Psa 119:97  Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Bangladesh is one of, if not the, most densely populated nation on earth.

“When Jesus heard it, he departed from there

by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But

when the multitudes heard it they followed

him by foot from the cities” (Matthew 14:13


It is no secret that cultures in Asia and America are vastly different. I am often asked, “What is the greatest cultural shock which you have encountered?” My usual answer is, “The lack of privacy.”

Bangladesh is one of, if not the, most densely populated nation on earth. It’s land area is about the same as that of the state of Iowa. In that limited space lives 165,000,000 people — approximately half the population of the United states. There is literally nowhere one may go that is without people.

And consequently there is no concept of “personal space.” Everything is done in view of others.

Americans are relatively scarce in Bangladesh, therefore we stand out in any crowd or context. The people have great curiosity about us, and no shyness or reluctance when it comes to staring or pointing.

Have you ever sat alone in a car with 50 to 100 people crowded around you, touching the windows and sides of the car, staring at you for 20 or 30 minutes? It is an experience one would not normally have in the U.S. This is merely one of many such instances, all of which cause considerable uneasiness to one unaccustomed to them.

Most of us have a need for privacy, at least occasionally. Even Jesus sometimes sought solitude, either to teach small groups, or to meditate and pray.  This in no way contradicted his earthly mission, “to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Sometimes the desire for privacy may stem from less than pure motives. In these instances, secrecy is the true goal. But not all who seek to be alone do so for the sake of wrongdoing.

The psalmist records the words of God exhorting mankind, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Though stillness and solitude are not synonymous, it is difficult to meditate deeply when in the company of others.

Just as Jesus drew apart to pray (Mark 6:46), so we find a special opportunity for communion with God when alone.

Though few of us desire to be always in the midst of a large crowd of strangers, it is never-the-less true that total solitude is also uncomfortable, at least for very long.

Most humans want some degree of companionship, most of the time. The occasional hermit is recognized as abnormal, socially unbalanced.

But those with a genuine relationship with God realize that they are never truly alone. The company of other humans may be denied them for a time, but there is always One who is with them.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor

life, nor angels nor principalities nor

powers, nor things present nor things to

come, nor height nor depth, nor any other

created thing, shall be able to separate us

from the love of God which is in Christ

Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Having just enough, but not too much, company is a delicate balance, hard if not impossible to always achieve. But reliance upon God to protect us from the crowd while always providing fellowship is the correct solution.

“If God is for us, who can be against us”

(Romans 8:31).

by Michael E. Brooks

I think your preaching is spectacular

I want to share with you an email that someone sent me this week. Here is what it said:

“Dear Steve, Hi, my name is Hanna ______. I am 13 years old, and I am a member at the ___________ . I am sending this email today to you to tell what an inspiration you are to me. Every night before I go to sleep, I listen to many audio devotionals of yours, or a sermon. I would just like to tell you that I think your preaching is spectacular, and you have helped me to better understand the Lord’s wonderful word. You have taught me many lessons, and I am so glad we have people out in this world teaching God’s word. Someday I hope I will get to hear you preach in person, and meet you! Thank you for everything.”

Wow! What an email! This one goes in my files. And did you notice? It’s from a 13 year-old. Friends, the power of life and death are in our words (Proverbs 18:21). Don’t tell me you’re too old, too young, too busy, or too untalented to positively impact another person’s life. How long do you think it took this young lady to write this note? How much good will, encouragement, and motivation do you think she created by her short note?

May I challenge you to be led by this young lady and when you sit down at your computer tomorrow morning, or why not every morning, take just a couple minutes to make a difference in someone else’s life?

Steve Higginbotham

Woe to evil shepherds

“‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and

scatter the sheep of my pastures’ says the

Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of

Israel against the shepherds who feed my

people: ‘You have scattered my flock, driven

them away, and not attended to them. Behold,

I will attend to you for the evil of your

doings,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1-2


Corruption in government is an ancient and universal problem. A modern proverb has it, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

In other words, give almost any human the ability to take advantage of a position for his own benefit and he will.

The prophets of Israel delivered God’s message of outraged anger against the oppression of the poor and needy by those in positions of power.

“Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work

out evil on their beds! At morning light

they practice it, because it is in the power

of their hand. They covet fields and take

them by violence, also houses, and seize

them. So they oppress a man and his house, a

man and his inheritance” (Micah 2:1-2).

Their thefts and oppression was not motivated by hunger or even just greed alone. They had the opportunity, therefore they took advantage of it. Such is the temptation of power.

It seems sometimes that governments throughout the world are in competition for the title of “World’s Most Corrupt.” Bribery and injustice permeate almost all bureaucracies. The primary motive for higher office seems to be personal profit. The poor and unfranchised seem to be mere helpless victims.

The only apparent solution to this particular form of corruption would seem to be the limitation or removal of all such power. If no one had the position to abuse, less harm could be done.

This may be the best argument for a purely democratic form of government. If government is truly of the people, then power rests in the full population, not any particular person or group.

But experience teaches that even this ideal situation cannot be, or at least has never been, sustained. A majority learns to misuse the power of numbers and oppresses minorities.

Elected representatives betray their constituents and act for themselves, not for those whom they represent.

Slowly and steadily power reverts to a few and becomes abused.

Christianity offers a better way. That is to recognize that “There is no authority except from God” (Romans 13:1).

We must submit to his power alone, looking to him for guidance and leadership.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the

mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in

due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

It is the denial, or abrogation of power, that is the surest path to incorruptibility. In Christ’s Church that is exemplified in what is called “Servant Leadership.”

“You know that those who are considered

rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them,

and their great ones exercise authority over

them. Yet it shall not be so among you, but

whoever desires to become great among you

shall be your servant” (Mark 10:42-43).

Paul expressed it like this,

“Let nothing be done through selfish

ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of

mind let each esteem others better than

himself. Let each of you look out not only

for his own interests, but also for the

interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

A hopeless and unrealistic ideal? In human governments where God is not honored, of course. But in His kingdom it is how it must be. God offers us a better realm. Let us seek it eagerly.

Michael Brooks



Christians Make Better Parents

Do you believe it? How about statistics to back it up? Dr. Rodney Stark may not claim to be a Christian (I don’t know his religious convictions) but it is refreshing to see/hear an academic who is at least sympathetic to Christians and their convictions. He taught comparative religions at the University of Washington but has moved to Baylor. In  2012, he published a book entitled America’s Blessings: How Religion Benefits Everyone, Including Atheists. Of course, when you talk about the influence of religion in America, it is almost exclusively Christianity. Judaism and Islam are not really significant enough to have had a long-term impact on American life, although they have contributed.

Now, to the idea of parenthood and, specifically, Christian parenthood. College students who are religious, feel closer to their parents. In a twenty-four year study, based on studies of moms and children, scholars at Penn State and the University of Michigan had been able to document the effects of religion on childhood.

If Mom goes to worship more frequently, she is more likely to have a close relationship with her child. Yet, more important than frequency of worship, the importance Mom places on religion has a profound impact on their relationship. If Mom and Child attends worship together, there is an even greater effect on the relationship! If the child does not attend, the relationship is weaker even if Mom attends.

If you through Dad into the mix, it is even better. If Dad attends more frequently, he is more likely to hug and praise Kiddo. That’s not what you expect from the way Christian Dads are portrayed in the media and on TV. In fact, religious dads are more involved in their children’s lives than non-religious dads.

Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas has studied the same impact. Teenagers are more satisfied with their family, among those who attend worship. Teenagers are more satisfied with their family, when their parents put a greater emphasis on religion. Satisfaction with family is higher among “conservative Protestants.” If teenagers attend worship with their parents, they are even more satisfied with their family. The study holds true for both guys and girls.

In Regnerus’s study, teenagers were more satisfied with their family when they were restricted relative to curfews on weekends, how much TV to watch, what they wear & eat, and other such items. Religious parents are more strict on their teens in these areas and such teens reveal more satisfaction with their parents.

Religious parents are more likely to spank their children but they are less likely to yell and shout at their children.  All in all, religious (read: Christian) parents have closer relationships with their children.

In the last chapter, Dr. Stark puts a dollar amount on his studies. Religious parents are more likely to homeschool and with 1.3 million children being homeschooled in the U. S., they save the taxpayer $630 million each year! (Although it would be nice to receive vouchers – or keep my own tax money – to help defray the cost of homeschooling!)

Families are the way God designed society. As we move away from a family-based culture, we will suffer the consequences.

“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart” (Proverbs 29:17).

– Paul Holland

They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around.

“A woman by the name of Eunice Pike worked with the Mazatec Indians in southwestern Mexico for over forty years. During her time there she made some very interesting observations. For instance, these people very rarely ever wished someone well. They are also very hesitant to teach one another. If asked, ‘Who taught you to bake bread?’ the village baker might answer, ‘I just know,’ meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone’s help. Eunice said this odd behavior stems from the Indian’s concept of limited good.’ They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well–‘Have a good day’–means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired” (Bernie May, “Learning to Trust,” Multnomah Press, 1985).

At first glance this attitude is shocking, but actually the mindset of the Mazatec Indians is not so different from today’s culture. While it’s not true for everyone, many in our society are completely engulfed with selfish, “me first” type attitudes. Nearly everything is done for self. Helping, teaching, being kind, and showing generosity to others is becoming increasingly uncommon. In fact, often times doing such things is even viewed as a hindrance and annoyance. Many don’t want to help a friend move because it’s tiresome and difficult. Some don’t want to assist an elderly person because it’s inconvenient. People rarely want to go the extra mile because it means less time “to do what I want.” It seems people think if they have to do something for others it will become such an annoyance and a hindrance that they will, therefore, become less happy. It’s almost as if some think they are giving away their own happiness with such acts. What an incredibly sad attitude.

God has always called for Christians to be different, especially in our attitude towards others. God told the church in Ephesus, “… Help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Christ even went so far as to say that we should be loving, giving, and kind to our enemies (Matthew 5:38-42)! In a world characterized by selfishness, how better to be a light in the darkness than to show and attitude of selflessness (Matthew 5:14)?

We aren’t “giving away our happiness” by being kind to others. In fact, as many have attested to from their own experiences, the more we give and show kindness, the happier we become. Not only does being kind and loving improve our quality of life, but our contrasting example could also bring others to Christ. Do we want to become happier in this life? The key lies in showing service, kindness, and love to others (Matthew 23:11; Ephesians 4:32; 1 John 4:7-11).

–Brett Petrillo

Sermon on Ecclesiastes 3 – The True, Basic Meaning

Sermon on Ecclesiastes 3


A. In Solomon’s effort to understand the “true meaning to life,” he sees that good times and bad times come to all, and this repeats itself in each coming generation.

1. This process repeats itself with such certainty that Solomon concludes – Ecclesiastes 3:15

2. The wise man will understand this, and prepare himself for the ups and downs in life

B. Solomon is going to remind us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there are things beyond our control

1. For example, no matter how rich and power one may be, he can not prevent sorrow, sickness and death

2. Solomon is going to help us to see that true comfort and happiness will only come by placing our trust in God

3. Man should make the best of life while seizing the opportunities God offers

C. In our text of study for this lesson (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15), we will see Solomon contemplating the providence of God



1. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

2. All the items Solomon has mentioned here we will come to know if we live long enough

a. Solomon is confirming his assertion made in chapter 2, that wealth, wisdom and success are not really in man’s hands

b. Notice how James puts it – James 4:13-16

3. There is a time:

a. To be born and die

1) Our birth is outside our control, and concerning death -we cannot prevent it – Hebrews 9:27

2) The contrast is that birth and death each have their appointed seasons which comes to past without man’s interference

b. To plant and pluck up that which is planted

1) Any farmer can attest to the truth of this statement

2) Food for survival depends on knowing when to do either

3) There is a spiritual application:

a) Luke 8:11-15

b) Matthew 15:13

c. To kill and to heal

1) This has reference to the execution of criminals and the healing of the sick

2) Biblical examples …

a) Deuteronomy 13:6-10

b) Luke 5:31

d. To break down and build up – simply, there is a time to tear down old dilapidated buildings and replace them with new ones

e. To weep and mourn, and to laugh and dance

1) This deals with the feelings of the heart

2) Good times and bad times comes into the lives of all

3) I am reminded of Romans 12:15

f. To cast away stones and gather stones

1) The idea is the throwing away to clear a field or the gathering to build a fence

2) There is a time and place for everything

g. To embrace and to refrain from embracing

1) This refers to illicit and legitimate love

2) The Bible says:

a) Proverbs 5:18-21

b) 1 Corinthians 7:2-5

h. To seek and keep, and to lose and cast away

1) In life there are gains and losses

2) The wise known when to exert energy in pursing wealth, and when it is prudent to submit and to loss.

i. To rend and to sew

1) This is usually understood of rending the garments as a sign of grief, and the repairing of the tear when the mourning season is over

2) An example – Genesis 37:29, 34

j. To be silent and to speak

1) There are times when we should speak out and other times when we should keep our mouths shut

2) For example:

a) Proverbs 15:23

b) Proverbs 17:28

k. To love and have peace, and to hate and have war

1) Both emotions, love and hate, are common to life

2) There are things to be loved –John 13:34-35

3) There are things to be hated – Proverbs 6:16-19

4. The lesson to be learn in all of this is that we should depend on things in which we have no ultimate control


1. Because there are laws governing the issues and events of life that are beyond man’s ability to regulate, Solomon asks – Ecclesiastes 3:9

a. The implies answer is that of Ecclesiastes 1:2

b. All efforts to circumvent God’s appointed seasons and times are futile

c. Man’s duty is to recognize and accept the circumstance beyond his control

2. Ecclesiastes 3:10-15

a. Man’s needs to realize that everything has a purpose in God’s overall scheme

b. Man cannot fully appreciate the beauty of God’s over all scheme, because they cannot see the finished product.

c. The human view of life has been compared to looking at a bedspread from the under side that appears only as rags, seems, and knotty strings. God sees the upper side of the beautiful pattern His hands have made.

d. To help us understand and accept the times and seasons of our life, we must view things from eternity’s perspective.

e. Man’s duty is to make the best of what he is dealt

f. We face only what people of past generations have endured – 1 Corinthians 10:13


A. Lessons of Lasting Value

1. Life changes often, and wise preparation is needed to make the best of it

2. There is a Divine order that pervades human life, and it is proper and wise to accept it with meekness

3. We should seek God’s guidance as we deal the changing times and seasons

4. Man’s true happiness depends on God

B. Even though there many things we have no control over, we can:

1. Choose our own conduct

2. Form our own character

3. Decide to obey God or not


“Love birds” in the Song of Solomon

Sometimes couples wonder “what went wrong in our relationship?”  Perhaps these ‘love birds’ in the Song of Solomon can offer a few tips.  Just in chapter one we see how considerate they were of one another.  Note these loving acts of consideration:

1)    He took the time to make sure he had a pleasing scent (1:3).  She did the same (1:12).

2)    While he obviously had a national reputation and major responsibilities (after all, he was the king!), he still took time for her (1:4a).

3)    He succeeded in making her feel like she was the only woman he cared about (1:8).

4)    When she had concerns about where he was and what he was doing, he didn’t chastise her for her lack of trust.  He lovingly explained where he would be and what he would be doing (1:7).  She was welcome to come join him, if she so desired!

5)    Both were very vocal in expressing how much they thought of the other.  Some say, ‘flattery will get you nowhere.’  Well, in the Song it worked well! He said she was “beautiful” (1:15), even saying it twice.  She said he was “handsome” and “pleasant” (1:16).  Of course these words were spoken in all genuineness and sincerity.

6)    She took the time to dress up, just for him.  Any guy will appreciate the effort his gal would make for his benefit, and visual pleasure! (1:9-14).

— Denny Petrillo

What would you have said?

I had already put in a full day of remodeling at my home. I dropped by a nearby McDonald’s for a quick bite and to relax for a minute before I went back at it. I was hoping to let my mind veg over a show I like. However, as I stood in line, a boisterous, middle-aged gentleman made his presence known in a variety of ways. A couple of times he spoke loudly, though not rudely, to the employees informing them of the needs at the drink station. Looking around, I could tell people were a little annoyed by this man’s volume level. He was clearly disturbing what was the “normal” for their restaurant visits.

When I received my meal I looked for a seat. One of the only open ones was at a table next to that same gentleman. As I sat down he was in conversation with a teenage guy who was sitting by himself. He quickly turned the conversation to both of us. When I picked up the conversation, the teen guy quickly finished and left. I got the impression this man carries conversations like this everywhere he goes. The chat jumped from baseball to football, from rules to politics to jobs. Finally, the topic of religion came up.

I talked about the church I worked with and invited him to come. Then something very interesting happened. His very first question after my invitation was this: “Does everyone wear suits at your church?”

This really struck a cord with me. His primary concern wasn’t with our doctrine. He wasn’t concerned about what we teach. He didn’t care about the programs we had in place. He wasn’t focused on who the preacher is. This man wanted to know if it would be a problem if he showed up to worship in jeans and a t-shirt. What this man really wanted to know was: Would he find acceptance here?

Both our world and what appeals to people today has changed. People aren’t nearly as concerned with truth as they are first with relationships. This should cause us to stop and start asking some different questions.

If someone showed up Sunday morning in shorts and a t-shirt, what would our reaction be? Are we more focused on the lack of a suit or state of the soul? Would we be upset by their attire, or excited at the prospect of a soul who needs guidance? Would we show such an overwhelming love, interest, and support in the person that they would feel accepted?

Our world desperately needs the gospel. The problem is, many people aren’t interested in listening to the good news until we can simply show them that we care about them. Sometimes in order to teach the truth, we first need to show our love so the truth can be heard (Ephesians 4:15). It’s time to start seeing as God sees and look past the fickle appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). Besides, that tends to change naturally with spiritual growth anyway! It’s time to stop judging so harshly on silly details and focus on the big picture, their soul (Matthew 7:1-2). It’s time stop being soil detectors and start being impartial spreaders (Matthew 13:1-23).

Here is the reality; this man has visited your congregation. No, I don’t mean the exact man I met at McDonald’s, but someone just like him. Someone has come looking for relationships, friendships, community, and acceptance. And without fail, someone will also be coming in the near future. Will this person find acceptance in you? Will this person find love in your congregation?

Brett Petrillo

“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1, ESV).

One fine day I was driving in town. As I came around a corner, two young men began to gesticulate excitedly at me. It angered me that they should make fun of my little car. It wasn’t fancy, but it got the job done!

At the traffic light, a fellow driver honked her horn at me, pointing at my car. What was wrong with everybody today, I wondered? When a group of school children began to point at my car and shout something, it began to dawn on this “genius” that they were all trying to tell me something.

I pulled over and found that my left tire was flat. All those people were trying to do was give me information that I needed! The only problem was that I was not listening! I was unteachable, because I thought I knew everything I needed to know already!

In religion, when a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, one of two things will happen. Either he will cease to be mistaken, or he will cease to be honest. When it comes to knowing God’s will, no one has 20/20 vision. We can all learn some more. But the only way to learn more of God’s will is to realize that there is room for improvement. In a word, we must admit the possibility that we might sometimes be wrong.

When it comes to understanding the mind of God, and the riches of wisdom in his word, no one has “learned it all.”

No one.

No matter how profound you feel your insights are, you can still learn more from God. The only impediment to learning is the attitude you don’t need to learn.

This Sunday, come to services with an open Bible…and an open mind!

— by Stan Mitchell


Sometimes those who seem to be our enemies are really our friends.

  • Take the scorpion.  The venom of the five-inch long “death stalker” giant Israeli scorpion contains chlorotoxin, a substance that seeks our cancer-causing cells in the brain and keeps them from traveling anywhere else in the body.  This magical transformation of a death poison into a life preservation substance could be the answer for 25,000 Americans suffering from glioma, at present an incurable and swiftly lethal form of brain cancer.
  • Then there’s the copperhead, a snake found in the eastern United States.  A protein in its venom markedly slows down the growth and spread of tumors, and medical science sees the snake’s poison as a new friend because of its prevention of breast and ovarian tumors in lab animals.
  • A substance distilled from the skin of the poison-dart frog of Ecuador is a potent painkiller, two hundred times stronger than morphine.
  • And from the vines growing in South America, a substance known as curare can be extracted to poison the tips of arrows but also to make a muscle relaxant.  Venom from the saw-scaled viper has molecular compounds that act amazingly like substances in white blood cells and fend off bacterial infections.  Researchers are preparing to test them in the fight against everything from cholera to staph to strep to salmonella.

Medical science demonstrates that what in its original form can be deadly can also be turned back on itself to become a remedy, a healer, a friend.

The same is true for criticism…  Criticism could be poison, or with God’s fondness for turning things around and sending them in the opposite direction, words of criticism can produce the opposite effect and strengthen the people they were meant to hurt.

Appropriate and truthful criticism can point out error; it can point out loopholes in a philosophy.

   But the most interesting effect of all criticism is that criticism only makes the headline type bolder when the critic is proved wrong.  Numerous are the stories of Abraham Lincoln’s slowness, insufficient mental prowess for his high office, deficiencies in formal education, and reliance on the low and vulgar manners of his upbringing.  Yet historians universally recognize him as our greatest president, and this underscores his accomplishments all the more.  John Sloan, “The Best Criticism in the World,” The Barnabas Way, 77-80

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”  Proverbs 27:6

–Mike Benson


You can’t legislate morality?

DURING ALMOST ANY discussion of issues such as abortion, homosexuality, pornography, gambling, or beverage alcohol, someone is virtually certain to say that ought not to be any laws against such things because “you can’t legislate morality…”

Even Christians may become convinced that it is futile to seek legal protection for unborn children, for example.  They might say we should concentrate on changing people’s hearts instead of changing the law.  Although we agree that ultimately the battle will be won or lost in the hearts of people, we also uphold the Biblical truth that civil government has a sacred duty to protect us from those who have no heart (or whose hearts have become hard).

Part of the problem is that the cliché, “You can’t legislate morality,” is interpreted differently today that it was several decades ago.  When the saying was first used, people simply meant that passing a law was not going to eliminate moral evil.  A law against gambling, for example, would not automatically end all gambling.  There would still be those who would violate the law rather than stop gambling.  You cannot legislate someone into moral behavior.  Now, however, when someone says, “You can’t legislate morality,” he usually means there ought not to be laws pertaining to moral issues.  Everyone is supposed to have the right to formulate his own private moral code without any interference from the government.

Obviously, passing laws will not guarantee that every citizen will become a paragon of virtue; in that sense, it is true that we cannot legislate morality.  But does it follow that we should have no laws pertaining to moral issues at all?

If the truth be known, all law is based upon morality.  Even the speed limit has a moral basis.  Driving over the speed limit endangers lives and property; were is not for this moral problem, there would be no reason to limit the speed at which one may travel in an automobile.  Likewise, “truth in advertising” laws are based upon the moral principle of honesty.  Without morality there would be no basis for any law at all.

Few, if any, of those who claim, “You can’t legislate morality,” would want to live in a society that did not legislate morality.  For example, we have laws against rape.  Why?  Because rape is immoral.  Have the laws cause everyone to behave morally, thus ending all incidences of rape?  Of course not!  Legislation will not cause everyone to become moral.  Should we then repeal all the laws against rape?  Who would support such an absurd conclusion?  Yet this would be logical result of the current mania against “legislating morality”!  Anyone knows that if the laws were repealed, even more rapes would occur.

We also have laws against stealing.  Why?  Because stealing is immoral.  Did all theft end when the laws were passed?  Obviously not!  Entirely too many people violate the law, stealing in spite of the legislation against it.  Does this mean we should repeal all laws against stealing?  How utterly foolish that would be!  Even more stealing would take place if we did that.

The same principle can be applied to other moral issues.  Suppose elective abortions were made illegal again.  Would the abortion rate plummet to zero?  Of course not.  There will always be desperate mothers who seek to solve their problems through the destruction of their children.  Beyond question, though, far fewer abortions would occur if they were illegal.

Can we legislate morality?  Of course we can.  We’ve done it for thousands of year, and we’re still doing it today.  The real question is, “Whose morality will we legislate?”  Will we legislate the morality of the humanists, which says man is the highest authority in the world, that right and wrong are relative, and that killing unborn babies is simply an act of “reproductive freedom”?  Or will be legislate Biblical morality, which holds that God is the supreme authority, and that human life, in His image, is sacred?  Joe Slater

“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  Acts 5:29

— Mike Benson

Lead out of rest and allow your soul to catch up with you.

A MAN WENT on Safari in an exotic country, hiring some local guides to manage his procession…


Because he had arrived late, he was already three days behind schedule, and the original safari had left without him.  So the hired men sprinted to catch up.


After the first day of running in the jungle heat, the men fell exhausted at the evening campfire.  Early the next morning, the visitor blew his whistle:  “Come on!  Let’s go!  Let’s catch that safari!”  The men jumped up, strapped on the bags, and started running.


Long after the sun had set, they finally stopped, once again falling in sheer exhaustion.  The foreigner was well-pleased, saying, “If we keep up this pace, we may catch the others!”  So the next morning, they got up in a hurry and ran again — all day long.


On the fourth day, the eager visitor sprung to his feet and exclaimed, “Today we shall surely catch them!  Let’s go!”


But the hired men just sat around the dying fire, poking the embers with sticks.  “Get moving right now!” urged the man.


The leader of the men replied, “We’re not moving.”


Indignant, the foreigner insisted, “I paid you to help me catch up with the safari!”


“Sir,” said the leader with a firm calmness, “we are not going to move all day.  You have pushed us so hard these first three days.  Now we will have to wait a whole day . . . to let our souls catch up!” 


Lead out of rest and allow your soul to catch up with you.  Only then will you be able to put your heart into everything God asks of you.  Without rest, you are leading on empty.  Wayne Cordeiro, “Seven Lessons Hard Learned,” Leading on Empty, 127-128


Mike Benson

If You Go To Hell

Going to hell? – not far fetched!  Many are headed to hell.  Ask Jesus!  “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it”(Mt.7:13ff).  Likely many reading this – some sitting on church pews saying “amen” are going to hell!  Even you!  Hell is real; the threat is not imaginary.

But if you go to hell, it is no accident. It is your choice.  I know you do not want hell’s miseries; you do not deliberately pick that “lake that burns with fire and brimstone.”  Yet, when you choose the road, you also, necessarily include its destination.  Choose booze – choose fornication – choose the “pleasures of this world” – choose to “just live as you please,” and you choose hell! – at the end of that road  Your choice! Plain and simple!  In the words of Joshua, “Choose for yourselves this day.”

If you go to hell, it will be in spite of God.  Do not blame God!!  “The Lord is … not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).  God never forces you,   overwhelms you, or makes you a robot.  Yet He “works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12). He tries to get you to do right – to listen – to choose the road to heaven.  To go to hell, you must reject all God’s efforts to the contrary.

If you go to hell, it will be in spite of God’s love for you.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jno. 3:16ff).  To go to hell you have to refuse such love; you must “despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering.”  Otherwise, the “goodness of God leads you to repentance?”(Rom. 2:4) – and eventually to heaven.

If you go to hell, it will be in spite of Jesus.  You, as a sinner, have no sacrifice for sin.  There is nothing you can do to free yourself from the guilt and consequence of your sin.  It is a hopeless case!  Hell looms on the horizon inescapably.  Until – until Jesus enters the picture!  He volunteers to be that sacrifice for sins.  He volunteers to accept your punishment deserved as a sinner.

For you, Jesus was scourged as a criminal. For you, Jesus died on the cross as a criminal.  For you, his blood was poured out as a sin sacrifice.  He changed your prospects from hopeless despair – from inevitable hell – to an open door into God’s favor, blessings, and heaven.  To go to hell, you have to ignore such a sacrifice on your behalf.

If you go to hell, it will be in spite of Christians.  They are the ones who pester you trying to persuade you to change your life and turn to God.  They just will not leave you alone to go quietly off to hell.  To go to hell you have to turn a deaf ear to all their warnings and all their appeals.

Christians are the ones who will not give up on you even when you try and fail miserably.  They are there to pick you up and encourage you to try again.  To go to hell you have to ignore people who care that much about you – or you may have to get angry with them and then refuse their help and concern.

Christians are the ones who pray for you – even when you quit praying.  They pray about your difficulties and your trials in life.  They pray about your spiritual weaknesses and your sins.  To go to hell, you must fight their prayers to God for you.

Christians are the ones who know what you can be – a son of God reflecting His image.  They are not satisfied for you to fail to become all that God can make of you.  Christians are patient because they were once where you are – and still have problems with spiritual weaknesses.  To go to hell, you will have to close the door on these people who love you – who love your soul.

Are you not finding it hard to keep on going to hell with such obstacles in your way?  In Jesus’ words to Saul, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5).  Why not just quit trying to go to hell – quit lashing out against those who try to help you – quit turning your back on God who wants to forgive you?  Serving God and going to heaven is a tremendous alternative!

– by Joe Fitch

My name is Mary

There is an old story of a census taker who was making his rounds in the lower East side of New York, who interviewed an Irish woman bending over her washtub. “Lady, I am taking the census.  What’s your name?  How many children do you have?”

She replied, “Well, let me see.  My name is Mary.  And then there’s Marcia, and Duggie, and Amy, and Patrick, and…”

“Never mind the names,” he broke in, “just give me the numbers.”

She straightened up, hands on hips, and with a twinkle in her eye, said, “I’ll have ye know, sir, we ain’t got into numberin’ them yet.  We ain’t run out of names!”

In a world filled with so many people, we sometimes feel insignificant.  Nobody wants to know our name — they just need our Social Security number, or identification number.  It can be an impersonal world that leaves us feeling very lonely, even when we are surrounded by a large crowd of people.

But in the eyes of God, we are viewed personally.  God knows each of us by name.  We matter to Him.

God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Take comfort in knowing you’re not just a number to God; you’re one of His precious children!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

As a Christian, we have something more valuable than words to offer others.

A couple of years ago I was walking through the parking lot at a Lowe’s in north Denver. There was a kid with Down’s syndrome working there collecting the carts as I was on my way in. I was having an ok day, not paying much attention and minding my own business, when he said something to me that I will never forget. Three words. I know that Lowe’s probably wants their employees to greet customers on their way into the store, but I was completely taken by surprise by the 3 words he chose. After the shock wore off, I felt a little embarrassed, a little flattered, but now was smiling,  and what had only moments before been an ok day, had now become a great day that I will always remember.

Occasionally when I drive by one of the billboards posting the current lottery jackpots, I let myself imagine what it would be like to have that much money. I would be able to do so much good. I could help so many people and could give so much away to people who need it. But then I realized one day that I had been deceiving myself. I probably would not be the generous giver that I imagine myself to be.

I came to this conclusion one day recalling the story of the kid in the parking lot. Had he simply given me $3 that day instead of the 3 words, I would probably not even be able to tell you what I spent it on. I’d have nothing to show for it, and my life would not be any better off.  So, those 3 words have more value than $3.

He gave me something of value. He gave me something that I didn’t deserve. He gave of himself to make my day better.

I have been stingy with my words. And if I cannot be generous with my speech, an endless supply that costs me nothing, why would I think that I would be more generous with a lot of money?  I would like to use the crutch of being an introvert, but that is only an excuse, and the fact is that I have the ability to speak, the ability to give of myself, to make someone’s day better, but I don’t.

So let me encourage you, if you are anything like me, to come out of your shell and engage in the practice of using a few words to change someone’s day and maybe their life. Try saying something like, “you look great!”, “I appreciate you”, “thank you”, “I’m glad you’re my friend”, “you’re a great friend”, “I look up to you”, “great hair day!”, or “let’s have lunch”. And if you really want to change someone’s day, you can even use the 3 words spoken to me by the kid in the parking lot……”MOVIE STAR LOOK!”

As a Christian, we have something more valuable than words to offer others. We have salvation and the good news of Jesus Christ. The world needs to hear the words that we have, but we’ve been taught not to talk to strangers, that people that we don’t know should somehow be feared. The reality is that even the boogie man needs Jesus. As far as I can tell, “Strangers” are exactly who we’ve been instructed to talk to in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations……”

So let’s see if we can make a difference with a few words. Like “come to services”, or “Jesus loves you”. Or you can use my Uncle Emmett’s favorite ice breaker “where are you from originally?” He was able to start many conversations which led to many bible studies which led to many conversions with those few words. Jesus made a big difference in the lives of Peter and Andrew when he simply said to them “Follow me”.

So let’s be generous with others in the words that we speak. Let’s give of ourselves.  Otherwise they may forever remain strangers, not knowing the love of God.

Scott Phillips