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|“The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep SILENCE before him.”|
Dr S H Tow
Seeking Happiness in Wine
When the wise king embarked on his experiment “to give himself to wine yet acquainting his heart with wisdom,” he was literally venturing on to the edge of a precipice or “skating on thin ice.” Had Solomon forgotten his own wise counsel: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging” (Prov 20:1)? And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise!
Alcohol dulls the perception, blunts the judgment and removes inhibitions. Hence the aftermath of reckless speech and action, dangerous “drunken driving” and indulgence in the flesh. For the unwary and foolish, a night’s adventurism may be a lifetime’s regret. Habitual drinkers be warned! Permanent brain and liver damage are too high a price to pay! Above all else, bringing shame to the Name of Christ that we bear is the greatest of all follies. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18).
Safeguard God’s Temple!
The question is often asked: should a Christian drink? Our answer: consider the risks and irreversible ill effects. Total abstinence is always the biblical way! Our bodies must be kept holy and healthy for the Master’s use. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor 3:16–17).
If the temptation to drink comes to you, resist the devil and he will flee from you. The first drink may be the start of an irreversible habit. Many top executives and high officials get on at social functions with tomato or orange juice. Social drinking is not unavoidable. It all depends on you — your will power, and your prior commitment. Go to a function prepared to say No, and ask for a soft drink. Pray and your LORD will grant you the desires of your heart and your faith will be strengthened in the process. What does your heart really desire?
Let not our weak intentions betray the cause of the Master. Let not our Christian liberty be abused. To refuse folly and keep our bodies pure for the Master’s use may not be easy. But it is worth it!
In This World No Gain!
God used Solomon to prove from experience the utter emptiness and futility of earthly possessions and material abundance. Solomon’s metropolis was unsurpassed for brilliance and magnificence. Its fame was noised abroad. The Queen of Sheba heard with unbelieving ears, but what she saw far exceeded what she had heard. Thus she exclaimed, “Behold, the half was not told me!” (1 Kgs 10:7)
But Solomon’s verdict as he sat back and reflected on his vast wealth and magnificent establishment was a sad disappointment. Ponder again his words: “Then I looked … and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (Eccl 2:11). Solomon derived no lasting happiness and satisfaction from all his wonderful works: houses, vineyards, wharfs, gardens, lakes and waterways, teams of servants, vast herds and flocks, and an immense collection of priceless treasures and works of art, an orchestra for vocal and instrumental music. He left nothing to the imagination. Everything that might add to his pleasure and enjoyment, he did not deny himself. All that royal wealth could procure, human heart could desire and wisdom could contrive, were his — just for the asking! You name it, he had it!
And yet when Solomon looked back, it was all so frustrating. It was like the chasing of shadows. Pleasure there was, but it soon faded with the novelty. The appetite and desire were filled, but still unsatisfied. A sad vacuum remained at the end, as at the beginning. Only a wearisome annoyance of spirit, as if he had been abundantly filled with wind or feeding on ashes. All because he backslided and cut Christ out of his life!
“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15).
In Christ No Loss!
Solomon’s message is to turn men to Christ. In him the lowliest believer is far happier and safer than the highest prince or tycoon. In Christ, you may be poor, yet able to make many rich! You may own nothing of this world’s goods, yet possessing all things! (2 Cor 6:10)
Christian reader, let us use our earthly rewards as God prospers us for God’s glory. Let us not find our rest in them. Rejoice in Christ alone, and not in mammon! Worldly goods give but momentary pleasure. So, fix not your heart on them!
Wisdom Better Than Folly
“Solomon had tried wisdom and folly — both separately and jointly — as independent sources of happiness. He had pronounced judgement upon them as vanity and vexation. But might not he have passed over some matters of weight in that decision? A second review might discover some error. He turns himself, therefore, as he had done before to behold the two things, and compare together his contrary experiments of wisdom and folly.” (C. Bridges)
How do you regard wisdom, my friend? Without a doubt, every civilized society gives it highest priority in its educational programme and institutions of learning. Take away knowledge and wisdom and we fall back into the Dark Ages. So, in all our seeking, seek wisdom! Pursue it relentlessly, you young students especially. Hear what Solomon has to say: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding … She is more precious than rubies: and all things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her” (Prov 3:13, 15).
Wisdom excelleth folly, as light excelleth darkness. By wisdom man circumnavigates the ocean of space, sails beneath the polar ice, makes a million calculations a minute, man and machine doing more work than a thousand. The marvels of modern science, the product of wisdom, are truly unsearchable. But brought down to earth, it means hard work, daily grind, relentless discipline and burning the midnight oil. Two boys go through school, reading the same books, running the same race. Thirty years later, one sits as judge, the other stands before him, an offending fool. “Wisdom excelleth folly as far as light excelleth darkness!” (Eccl 2:13)
Wisdom No Better Than Vanity
In worldly matters, there is no comparison: wisdom is everything! But the matters that matter go beyond this world. Solomon saw it. In things of another world, this world’s wisdom mattered little. It is of the earth! The king was no better than the pauper, the judge than the fool. One final event laid them low together. It lays us all on a level, no difference. “Why then was I more wise? What is the use of my wisdom, if at the last I die like the fool?”
Yet, there is a difference. In the last call, the wisdom of God, the saving knowledge of Christ raises him who believes! This is wisdom from heaven! (Extracts from RPG Workbook Vol III No. 12, Oct 28 – Nov 24, 1984.)
Dr Paul Lee Tan
God Will Help in Hong Kong
In his book God Will Help Me, Walter G Swanson refers to the life of Robert Dollar. He writes:
A keen-eyed young sea captain stood in the lobby of a large hotel in Hongkong conversing with an Englishman. ‘So you’ve come to do business in the Orient? Well, step into the bar and tell me about your plans.’ ‘I’m sorry’, said the seaman, ‘but I never partake of alcoholic beverages’. The man’s florid face broke into an unbelieving smile. ‘Entering the Oriental trade without having a Scotch and soda?’ ‘Yes, sir!’ ‘Do you expect to be successful without taking your friends into a tavern for a drink? If you do’, he said with a cynical laugh, ‘God help you!’ The young man replied, ‘God WILL help me.’ And he was right.
Years later, Robert Dollar stood on the 10th floor of the building that bore his name near San Francisco Bay. He was watching the workmen unload cargo from his freighters that had come from all over the world. Having avoided the pitfalls of liquor, he had indeed been richly blessed by the Lord.
–Our Daily Bread
Logical Toast in Japan
William J Bryan, visiting Japan, attended a banquet given to the Admiral of the Navy. All present paid tribute to the Japanese naval leader. The time came to drink a toast. Those present lifted their champagne glasses, but there was a gasp of alarm as Mr. Bryan was seen to raise a glass of water. Someone grasped his arm and whispered that such a toast would be considered an insult. The great commoner was equal to the delicate situation. ‘You won your victories on water,’ he said, turning to the admiral, ‘and I drink to your health in water; whenever you win any victories on champagne I shall drink your health in champagne.’
No Whiskey, No Cigars
One day, President Abraham Lincoln was riding in a coach with a colonel from Kentucky. The colonel took a bottle of whiskey out of his pocket. He offered Mr. Lincoln a drink. Mr Lincoln said, ‘No thank you, Colonel. I never drink whiskey.’ In a little while, the colonel took some cigars out of his pocket and offered one to Mr. Lincoln. Again Mr. Lincoln said, ‘No, thank you, Colonel.’ Then Mr. Lincoln said, ‘I want to tell you a story.’
‘One day, when I was about nine years old, my mother called me to her bed. She was very sick. She said, ‘Abe, the doctor tells me that I am not going to get well. I want you to be a good boy. I want you to promise me before I go that you will never use whiskey or tobacco as long as you live.’ I promised my mother that I never would, and up to this hour, I kept this promise! Would you advise me to break that promise?’
The colonel put his hand on Mr. Lincoln’s shoulder and said, ‘Mr Lincoln, I would not have you break that promise for the world! It is one of the best promises you ever made. I would give a thousand dollars today if I had made my mother a promise like that and had kept it like you have done. I would be a much better man than I am!’
–Martine M. Hyzer
(Extracts from Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations.)
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