The CCN Sabbath Worship.
by Pastor Don. Roy Hemingway.
Gooooooooooooooooooooood morning brethren, peace unto you and the grace of our lord Jesus be with you. May the Almighty God of hosts stay ever with you this morning and thank you, for joining us here at ‘The Church of the Christian Nation’ for worship and praise. Let us begin as is our tradition every day here at the Nation, by reading from the word of God. Amen.
The Gospel according to….
Ecclesiastes 4. 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
1 So I returned and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: And behold, the tears of those who were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power, but they had no comforter.
2 Therefore I praised the dead who are already dead more than the living who are yet alive;
3 yea, better than both of them is he who hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
4 Again, I considered all travail and every right work for which a man is envied by his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
5 The fool foldeth his hands together and eateth his own flesh.
6 Better is a handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of the spirit.
7 Again I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun:
8 There is one who is alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother, yet there is no end to all his labor. Neither is his eye satisfied with riches; nor saith he, “For whom do I labor and bereave my soul of good?” This is also vanity; yea, it is a sore travail.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, then they have heat, but how can one be warm alone?
12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threestrand cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better is a poor and wise child, than an old and foolish king who will no more be admonished.
14 For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.
15 I considered all the living who walk under the sun, with the second child who shall stand up in his stead.
16 There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them; they also who came after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Dear Father in heaven, you are always near to us in this earth, and we thank you for all the love you put into our lives so that we can be joyful, even in all kinds of temptations and struggles. How much you have given us and how often you have rescued us from distress! Again and again you have let the light of life everlasting shine out to call to us. You give us light not only for the moment but also for the future, enabling us to draw strength and assurance from the present, the past, and the future, to the glory of your name. In Jesus we pray. Amen.
A Lesson for the learning.
(4) Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also isvanity and grasping for the wind.
(5) The fool folds his hands
And consumes his own flesh.
(6) Better a handful with quietness
Than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind. (7) Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun:
(8) There is one alone, without companion:
He has neither son nor brother.
Yet there is no end to all his labors,
Nor is his eye satisfied with riches.
But he never asks,
“ For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?”
This also is vanity and a grave misfortune.
Ecclesiastes 4:4-8 records Solomon’s analysis of four types of workers. He appears to have disgustedly turned his attention from the corrupted halls of justice to the marketplace, watching and analyzing as people worked. Recall how those who work diligently are lauded throughout Proverbs and how Ecclesiastes 2 and 3 both extol work as a major gift of God. Solomon came away from this experience with assessments of four different kinds of workers. Understand that God chooses to illustrate His counsel by showing extremes; not everybody will fit one of them exactly. At the same time, we should be able to use the information to make necessary modifications to our approach to our own work.
The first he simply labels the “skillful” worker. This worker has not only mastered the techniques of his trade, but he is also unusually industrious in performing it. We might better call this person a skillful workaholic. The man’s skill is laudable, but his productivity motivates others to envy rather than to admiration. Knowing human nature well, Solomon is motivated to think more deeply about what drives such a person to apply himself so intensely. This may be especially useful for us because it seems to apply well to life in an Israelite culture.
Verse 4 is translated to make it appear as though those watching this skillful worker envy his diligence. However, other versions change the direction of the translation, instead saying that the diligent worker labors as he does because he is driven by his own attitude. The Jewish Publication Society, the New American Bible, and the Revised English Bible all change the word “envy” to “rivalry.” That is, people of this mindset perfect their skills and work industriously because of their competitive nature gone overboard.
They want to have more wealth as well as a greater reputation than others in their field of endeavor. This type is especially strongly driven to stay ahead of the competition. Some have analyzed that such workaholics see themselves in what may be called a “battle for bread”; their purpose in being skillful is less to produce a truly quality product than it is to get rich. Thus, the hands are truly capable, which is admirable, but the heart is out of alignment with God. Solomon describes a law of nature, the survival-of-the-fittest attitude, applied to a person’s trade. He concludes that this is detrimental, literally a sheer vanity that makes life meaningless.
He is describing something similar to American capitalism, which is productive but not perfect. This competitive approach to work was not part of God’s original creation of mankind but a twist Satan has inserted as part of human nature. It is unbalanced in a number of ways, one of the more obvious being that such driven people ignore or submerge other important aspects of life like marriage and family. The worker may feel good about himself because he is providing well for his family, but he is blind to the fact that others are paying a severe price.
Covetousness, competition, envy, and jealousy are often linked. Competition is not evil in itself, but when being first is pursued at the expense of honesty, trouble will also be produced. We see this when some athletes break the rules by using drugs or when manufacturers cut back on the quality of a product. The world is full of Joneses to keep up with or excel.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
May God bless you all and ‘The Church of the Christian Nation’, Amen.
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