More Life Under the Sun

Scripture: Galatians 6:2, Ecclesiastes 4:1-16, Acts 20:35
Lesson: 5
Solomon wonders if life is really worth living, but recognizes the benefits of having a support community rather than living alone.
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Good morning and welcome to central church this morning for Sabbath school. I would like to especially welcome all the visitors we have in our audience this morning. There are a lot of you here and welcome.

A welcome to our members, and a very special welcome to you that are joining us from across the country and around the world, live on the internet this morning, either through radio or television. Welcome and thank you for joining us. Our first hymn this morning is hymn number 317, "lead me to calvary." This is a request from David lewis in mulberry, ArKansas and hazeline Luke in barbados. Hymn number 317, and we will sing all four verses... If you have a special hymn that you would like to request on a coming Sabbath, all you do is go to our website at www., and click on the music link. And there you can request any of your favorite hymns in our hymnal. And we would love to sing that with you on a coming Sabbath. Our next hymn--i found it very interesting, if you listen to where all these people are from, it touched my heart that these hymns and Jesus himself binds us in love from all over the world. And this hymn, hymn number 516, "all the way my Savior leads me," is a request from lucie and Isaac in florida, judy and takeesha Isaac in barbuda, patrick lennon in jamaica, janeth lampaderio in ireland, terrence clark in jamaica, wilbret charles in india, connie melope in the uk, judith corbin in barbados, melon quinnkeria from the republic of korea, amooth nardarjan from hyattsville, Maryland, desiree benevedes from elk grove, California, cedres catherine from the ceshales, jez bantolo from the Philippines, annie chaney from sumter, South Carolina, rodel gatos from bangkok, thailand, and last but not least, anita fredrick from bronx, New York.

They all requested this song and it is a tie that binds. "All the way my Savior leads me," hymn 516. And we are gonna sing all three verses... Our Father in Heaven, what a blessing it is to be here to worship you this morning. We come from across the world on bended knee and bowed heads to worship you, our creator, our Lord, our Savior.

We thank you for everything that you've done for us, for bringing us through another week. And now, as we study Your Word Lord, I ask you to please bless Pastor Doug as he brings us Your Words to us, that we can take them forth this next week, lead others to you, so that when you come, we can truly say we have waited for you. And we are ready. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Our lesson study will be brought to us this morning by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at sac central. Thank you jolene. And I'm getting more senior all the time. Morning, Happy Sabbath. And good to see each of you here this morning.

And looking forward to our study today. Again, I want to welcome our friends that, our bigger aspect of the class is actually the tens of thousands of people who are studying with us on these respective networks on satellite all around the world, and we want to welcome you. Before we dive into our study, we always have a gift book. And we're switching to a new book today, and it's "teach us to pray." It's a new book. And it's number 717.

Call the number on your screen if you're watching on tv, -788-3966. And I'll say it one more time for our friends who are listening on radio. That's 866-788-3966. And we'll send it to you for free. So please ask for that.

And we hope that it is a blessing for you. You know something I want to mention before we get into the lesson, we're hearing more and more from our extended class of people who are in different parts of the world that are isolated, that have no church they can fellowship with. Some people are shut-in because of health purposes. And some folks are in what you would call a dark county. They're living within the realms of civilization, but there is no Sabbath-keeping church they can worship with.

Not only are there thousands of people in this case overseas that we hear from, but there's even some, believe it or not, here in North America. And we are beginning to strengthen a way where through Sacramento central we're trying to connect with and minister to these people who are isolated that want to be connected to a church. Now obviously, through the internet, you can't give a hug or enjoy a potluck, but you can do a lot of things. You can ask Bible questions. There's chat and fellowship.

There's online you can listen to messages online. This Sabbath school can be heard live streaming, plus they're stored. Sermons can be heard. And so there's a lot that can be done to minister to people. And so if you're not connected with a church, we invite you to connect with Sacramento central.

We want to try and keep you strong in the faith. And just go to our website, which is simply that: And you can find out more about how being, you can be part of this family. And who knows, maybe someday we'll be able to give you a hug and a potluck. But for right now, we'll try and--i bet one of these days, you'll be able to download a potluck.

They got it where you can download, if we last long enough, you'll be downloading your children soon, just digitize them and download them three-dimensional, or something. Now to Ecclesiastes, one of the deepest books in the Bible. And we're in lesson number 5 that deals with chapter number 4. And I like these lessons that just take one complete chapter. Turn with me.

I'm gonna first read through it. And it's not that long. And that way I know at least that we've read it together. Ecclesiastes 4, "then I returned and considered all of the oppression that is done under the sun: and look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter, on the side of their oppressors there is power, but they have no comforter. Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead, more than the living who are still alive.

Yet, better than both is he who has never existed," boy, that's heavy, "who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun. Again, I saw that for all that toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind. The fool folds his hand and consumes his own flesh. Better is a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.

" Notice that operative word, "grasping for the wind," or "vexation of spirit." We'll talk about that. "Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun: here 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. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.

For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one might be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Better is a poor, wise youth than an old and foolish king who will not be admonished any more.

For he comes out of prison to be king, although he was born poor in his kingdom. I saw all the living who walk under the sun; they were with the second youth who stands in his place. There was no end of all the people over whom he was made king; yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and grasping for the wind." Or as it says in some translations, "vexation of spirit." Okay, let's get into our study here. Let's take it verse by verse.

Oh, we have a memory verse. The memory verse is Galatians 6:2, and I invite you to say that with me. Of course, it's in your lesson. Ready? "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Well, that's worth repeating again if it fulfills the law of Christ. Let's say that one more time.

Galatians 6:2, "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." I agree with the lesson writer. That's one of the most important passages in this lesson, talking about helping each other up. Well, let's start with verse 1, "then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: and look! The tears of the oppressed, but they have no comforter, on the side of their oppressors there is power, but they have no comforter." Can you think of some examples in Bible history where people were oppressed and the power was in the hands of the oppressor? Well, Babylonian captivity. One of the most prominent examples is the main story of salvation in the old testament, which is the Exodus. A whole nation is saved.

And they are oppressed. And the Bible says they served hard bondage labor. God said, "I have heard their cry, I've seen their tears," he told Moses. And so here you've got a whole nation of people who are oppressed by the pharaoh. And because he had the power in his hand.

Now that is symbolic of the oppression in the world. It manifests itself many different ways. Ultimately who is the great oppressor in this world? Does he have an element of power? Are there people who are crying underneath his dominion, looking for deliverance? Now that'll manifest itself in sometimes you have the master and the slave. Yes, there is still slavery in the world. It could be employer-employee.

They have a certain amount of power. Sometimes it is husband and wife, one is oppressed by the other. A lot of different ways that this oppression is demonstrated. I was watching a program on some of the corruption in third world governments. And even though they've got tremendous natural resources in gold and diamonds and oil, the people are living in such poverty, because those with the money have the power and those in power oppress their own people.

And there's a lot of tears that are cried in this world. How does the Lord feel about that? Does God care? Does it sometimes seem he's not doing anything? Why doesn't God intervene? Well, sometimes it seems like he doesn't listen; he doesn't care. But for the 400 years that the children of Israel were oppressed in Egypt, did God see it? Did God care? Did he finally act? So his timing, sometimes we don't understand it, but his timing is always perfect. Keep in mind also, instead of saying if God was good, why is there so much bad in the world? If God is good, why does he allow so much suffering? What we ought to be saying is the world has rejected God. God is so good we don't deserve his intervention.

And so instead of saying if God is good, why is there so much bad? We ought to say the world is so bad, thank God that he is good and he intervenes and saves and delivers, because this world really turned its back on God. It's become the dominion of an enemy. And God and his goodness intervenes there. Matthew henry in his commentary of verse 1 said, of chapter 4, "to see might prevailing against right, to see much oppression done under the sun, to see servants and laborers and poor workmen oppressed by their masters, who take advantage of their necessity, the innocent suffering at the hands of the wicked." And I think one of the hardest things is when we see children who are being oppressed. Sometimes, obviously, parents have the power.

And it's so sad when you see them being abused and mistreated. And Solomon beholds all this. And he said, "this is," you know, "one of the great tragedies of life, the oppression in the world." Let's move on, Ecclesiastes 4:2, is life worth it? "Therefore I praised the dead who are already dead, more than the living who are still alive." By the way, people who are melancholy like reading Ecclesiastes, because Solomon here is just kind of saying, you know, "what's the use?" There is so much, sometimes it seems like it'd be better not to live. Now that doesn't mean it wasn't inspired. Job said the same thing, didn't he? Matter of fact, someone look up--well, let me finish reading this verse.

"Yet better than both he is he who has never existed, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun." Now somebody read for me job 3:16. And I'm gonna go way out on a limb here. Job 3:16, if you're willing. We got hands here. Microphones, where they at? Got a microphone here.

Adam? Hey, I like your hair. Mike has it, okay. Job 3:16. Job 3:16, "or as in hidden untimely birth, I had not been, as infants which never saw the light." Job is saying, "it would have been better," during a time of suffering, he's saying, "oh, it would have been better if I was never born." Can you think of anyone else in the Bible that wished to die? Prophet of God. Does it happen? Yeah, Elijah.

I mean here he went from the mountaintop experience, filled with the Spirit of God, filled with the power of God. He prays and fire comes down. He prays and rain comes down. And then before 24 hours go by, he prays that he might die. Part of that was probably low blood sugar.

What'd the angel do when he woke him up? Fed him. Right? So I mean, you know, God considers these things. He was discouraged. He expected a revival. And yet, jezebel is still on the throne, and he figures, "oh, it's not going to get any better.

She's still in power." And the righteous will be oppressed. Here jezebel was oppressing the prophets of God. And he said, "wouldn't it be better if I just died?" Solomon says, "those who are not even, who have never lived, it's better for them." Have you ever been to a funeral of somebody who died from lingering painful cancer, and you're almost relieved? I've comforted a spouse or two, who when their spouse finally dies, they're relieved. You'd expect them to finally break up. And they said, "no, I've been mourning for years.

" He or she has been suffering for years. Now I'm finally at rest because they're at rest. And Solomon is looking at the suffering in the world. And he's saying, you know, times when you look at that you think it's better not to be. Now, here's where I go out on a limb.

First of all, life is better. And I've had to ask God to forgive me for the times I've talked like Solomon, where I've said, "oh Lord, I'm so tired of the problems I have to deal with. I sometimes wish I could go, just close my eyes, go to sleep, and just cease to exist." Now I won't ask for a show of hands, but raise your hand if you've ever had that thought before? Come on now. Anyone just thought, "oh Lord, if I could just not be?" Of course, I always say to the Lord, "now that means cease to exist, that means no judgment, no anything." Just don't wake up. Just poof, you're gone.

No memory. And then you know what I start to think? I said, yeah, but if the world goes on and I cease to exist, what about my family? What about people who might need me? And then I start to feel guilty that I had that thought. And then I think life is a gift. God's Spirit convicts me. Life is a gift.

And yeah, there's struggle in life. And even for those who have rough life, life is a gift. It's so much better to experience and to live and to think and to be and to be self-aware than to have nothing. That's why Solomon says in the same book, "a living dog is better," and we're going to get to that later, "than a dead lion." A lion was considered the majestic beast. A dog was like a pig in the Bible.

Dogs and pigs are often grouped together. And yet Solomon says, "a living dog scavengers better than a dead lion." And so life is better. But we all have those moments where we see the oppression and we think it's better off not to exist. Now I'm going out further on a limb. Are there some who will be as though they had not been? Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.

I frequently get the question, "what about people who are born in--" and I know some of my baptist friends that believe in eternal torment struggle with this-- "they're born in just dark, pagan nations?" Picture for a second; let me create a scenario for you. You've got some , 13-year-old girl. She's born in a dark, pagan nation. I mean I've seen some kids like this in india. They're just--they're raised with darkness and paganism and all these thousands of Gods.

And they're worshipping rats and snakes. And they just don't know what truth is. And their concept of life is all skewed. And they're guilty of sin, they're beyond the age of accountability, and they die. Can you imagine resurrecting some poor girl like that, some of them die from long, lingering sicknesses? And you know, based on the theology of some Christians, if they did not accept Jesus, they're gonna burn in hell forever and ever and ever.

You know that don't you? There's people that believe that out there, lots of 'em, millions of 'em. Kind of a scary belief, think about that. That poor girl, born she had no choice in this pagan nation. Raised in darkness, abused by parents, dies from sickness, doesn't have an opportunity to learn about Christ. Gonna be tortured through endless ages in hell, because she didn't happen to ever hear a missionary.

There are people who believe that, you know that. Isn't that tragic? I'm glad that the Bible tells us that God is good and that he'll reward everybody, "not only according to their works, but according to what they know, their light." And that "he who has done much sin is beaten with many stripes; he who has done little, few stripes." And those who have not had the opportunity, I think that some will almost be as though they had not been. They may be destroyed with the wicked, but it will be almost instant. And there will be some who may not be raised for that destruction. They'll just be as though they had not been.

Now, I'm going further out on a limb. I was taken to task one time because somebody asked me, "doug, is every aborted or miscarried baby going to be in heaven?" And I thought about that for a minute. You think about how many people are alive, but how many, how many children and how many babies die, and even conceived babies--and I am totally against abortion. Don't misunderstand. But I'm just trying to get you to think here.

Heaven, if every miscarried pregnancy and every miscarried birth and every aborted baby is gonna be raised and you do the math, heaven will be a virtual nursery. It will. So I think that's why job said, "though that I might be as like an unborn or stillborn child, that never saw the light of day." I think that there will be some who just will be as though they had not been. Now there'll be a lot of babies in heaven. The children will be there, children who mothers have lost, especially Christian mothers.

And here's my further argument for that. The Bible says that if a believing mother, Corinthians 7, is married to an unbelieving husband, but he's willing to stay with her, let them stay together, because the children are sanctified by the faith of the mother. How many know what I'm talking about? You remember reading that? So using good theology, if there are some children who are sanctified, these are children before the age of accountability, who are sanctified by the faith of the mother, what does that say for children who are not sanctified by the influence of believing parents? They're not at the age of accountability. And they don't have the influences of saved parents. So is every child that died in the days of Noah out in the waters? All the parents lost age of accountability, but every child saved? I think we need to keep that door open and just pray.

I mean we don't have all the answers, but I think we need to pray for wisdom that we understand that. I know a lot of Christians that have lost children, some of them in infancy. I think those mothers will have those children placed in their arms. I think it may be extreme to assume that every miscarried baby of the lost and the saved, all around the world, are going to be in heaven. There will be some as though they had not been, like job said.

You may disagree with me. I could be wrong. So don't get mad at me. I don't have all knowledge. But just when I read the verses, I think this is--and the Spirit of prophecy seems to support that as well.

Alright, let's move on. I didn't want to spend so much time with that heavy stuff, but it is heavy. Ecclesiastes 4:4, "again, I saw for all the toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This is also vanity and grasping for the wind." Now you find that verse several times in Revelation, "grasping for the wind," it's "vexation of spirit." And you find it nine times in Ecclesiastes. This is one of the signature terms of Solomon.

"Vexation of spirit" kind of leaves, it's a nebulous, old english, it's kind of an archaic way of saying it. This is one place where the King James is served by a more modern rendering, which would be "grasping," the new king James, "grasping for the wind." How do you grasp air? You ever shovel air before? It's kind of got the picture of a waste of time, doesn't it? And so much of what people struggle for and strive for is a waste of time. Trying to keep up with your neighbor, envying your neighbor, is a "vexation of spirit," "grasping for the wind." What is the tenth commandment? "Thou shalt not covet." Doesn't stop there, 'cause there's some things you should covet. "You should covet earnestly the best gifts," the Bible says. It's not a sin to covet.

Covet means "to desire or want." It tells you specifically what not to covet. That's when you start to break the law. Coveting the wrong thing. It says it's not a sin to covet something. Covet means to desire something.

It's a sin to covet your neighbor's house, wife, servants, so forth. And so being jealous, envying what somebody else has. If you get everything your neighbor has, you'll always find someone who has more, unless you're bill gates. And there are probably even some who have more than him. He doesn't spend all his money.

Or at least there'll be some that you think have more, even if they don't. The grass is always greener on the other side, right? And so envy and thinking you're going to be satisfied by having something that someone else possesses is shoveling wind, it's "vexation of spirit," it's "grasping for wind." You'll never be satisfied. If you try to keep up decorating your house with everything you see on these home design programs on tv, you will be living in a constant state of redecoration. And everything will always be torn apart and you'll never be happy. You'll never get to enjoy any of it.

And that's how somebody lives. Some people live like this. They're just constantly unsatisfied because they're envying. Then in verse 5 of chapter 4, it says. "The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh.

" Now to understand this, you need to look at other places in the same book where he uses some of these terms. Somebody for me--actually by the same author I should say--read Proverbs 10:4. Somebody else Proverbs 24:30. Alright, jason, you're gonna do Proverbs 10:4. And I want one more, Proverbs :24.

Who has Proverbs 19? Do that one next. Birdie's got Proverbs. Right here, adam. Birdie, 19:24, go. Jason, you're next.

Proverbs 10:4, "he becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand, but the hand of the diligent maketh rich." Alright, so in verse 5 where it says, "the fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh," what's he talking about? Laziness, slothfulness. Alright, birdie, read the next one, which is Proverbs 19:24. "The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, he will not even bring it back to his mouth." Okay. That's another one of those places where it's a difficult verse. The word could either say, "he buries his hand in his bosom," kind of like napoleon, or "in his dish.

" It's the same word, so they're not sure. But either way what it's saying is that he's got a lazy hand. So when it says here in verse 5, "the fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh," probably one of the best ones I could read for you is Proverbs :30, "I went by the field of the slothful," this is Proverbs :30, "and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns; and nettles had covered the face thereof; and a stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well; I looked upon it and received instruction: yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands," does that sound familiar? "To sleep; so shall your poverty come as one that traveleth, and all thy wants as an armed man." It's talking about laziness. So on one hand, Solomon says, you got two extremes, you got the man who envies and he works himself to death to try to get what others have and he's never satisfied.

And then you got the other extreme; that the person who doesn't work, and he consumes his own flesh through slothfulness. He comes to poverty because he's just plain lazy. And so Solomon here is looking at the two extremes that bring unhappiness. Those that work themselves to death--do you know any workaholics that don't enjoy anything they own? That was my father was exhibit-a, just worked and worked and worked. Every now and then he'd take some time to try and enjoy his things, but most of the time, it's just work, work, work, work, work.

And pretty soon you look back, your life is gone; you have lots of stuff and no relationships and very few memories of anything but work. So that's one extreme. Then you got the other extreme. And the people spend all their times working so hard to do nothing. I won't name any names, but I know some children that will sometimes work so hard to get out of doing a simple job that instead of taking two trips, they'll try to take an insane amount of something in one trip and it takes them forever to do it, because they just don't want to make two trips.

You don't know who that child is. Do you? Oh, you think it's your child. But you ever seen these slothful people, they just, they work so hard to get into circumstances so they don't have to work. And you know, two extremes. Okay, let's keep going here.

Contentment: Ecclesiastes 4:6, "better is a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind," "vexation of spirit." Better is a little with peace. Somebody read for me Philippians :11. Somebody else, please, 1 Timothy :6. Philippians 4:11, I got a volunteer? Roy, you got your hand up. And then somebody else, Timothy 6:6.

Maybe somebody over here, jolene's got that one, adam. Okay, go ahead, roy. Philippians 4:11, "not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." That is a great blessing when you've learned to be content wherever you are, whatever your circumstances. Now I'm not saying that I have arrived, but I have learned a lot about you can be happy with very little. You know what's taught me that? Traveling.

Paul did a lot of traveling too, didn't he? You know sometimes you think you gotta have all this stuff to be happy, and I've found at times I'm perfectly content in an austere little hotel room, just being able to sit down and read my Bible. If you've got warmth and your stomach is full and you're attitude is good, you can be happy. And you know, sometimes when I'm rooting around on my house and I look at all the stuff we've managed to accumulate and collect, I think you don't really need all this to be happy, because I've lived very happily out of a suitcase for months. And Paul had less than I had in my suitcase. I can guarantee you that.

It's an illusion. Materialism kills a lot of people with dissatisfaction. Timothy 6:6, go ahead jolene. "Now Godliness with contentment is great gain." We bring nothing into the world, you're not gonna take anything out of the world. When job was very wealthy and then he lost everything he had, what did he say? "Naked I came into the world; naked I'm leaving.

" "the Lord gave; the Lord taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." And once we are comfortable with the concept that everything belongs to God--you know what else I've, I've learned is there's a proverb, I first learned it in spanish. And I don't even remember how to say it in spanish, but I know the english translation. And it says, "hunger makes the best sauce." Hunger makes the best sauce. Someone will tell me later what the spanish translation is.

And then there's another proverb, "the more tired you are, the more comfortable your bed is." And so a lot of our attitudes about contentment and dissatisfaction, it can come from envy because someone else seems to have something more. You might think your bed is great until you go try out a nicer one. You might think your food is fine, until you eat at a different restaurant. And so a lot of our dissatisfaction and lack of contentment comes, you know, because we begin to envy what someone else has. Now we're going to go into some of the more important aspects of this chapter: relationships.

Ecclesiastes 4:7, "then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun: there is one alone, without companion: he has neither son nor brother. And yet there is no end to all his labor, nor is his eye satisfied with riches. But he never asks. 'For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?' This is also vanity and a grave misfortune." You know, especially in the Jewish economy, you often thought about leaving your inheritance, your property, your work to, well it could be naturally it would be your son. If it wasn't your son or your daughter, then it would be a friend.

You remember Abraham was saying to the Lord, "Lord, I have no heir, the only one I've got is this steward of mine, eleazer from damascus." I mean, so he says, "who am I going to leave all this to? I'm one of the richest nomads in the land of canaan, and I have no heir." And he was walking around with the name "father of a multitude," and he had no children. And so Solomon might be thinking about this. Some people work and work and they have no friend to leave it to. They have no son. They don't have anybody to leave it to.

And what is the purpose of getting more than you need? What are you gonna do with it? Now I heard a story. I'm gonna mess it up, 'cause it just came to me. I didn't get to research it. But the way I remember it is there was a man by the name of smith, who was in england, and he became a very successful scientist and inventor and did a lot of great research and taught and a lot of accomplishments. He wanted to be allowed to be inducted into the royal association of scientists in england, but they would never allow him in, because he was illegitimate.

He was born illegitimate. And so even after years of just sterling accomplishments, they wouldn't let him in. At his death, he was very wealthy. He left his entire estate to a foundation in North America where he had never been. And he called the foundation smithsonian, because it was his final way of saying, "look, if I'm not good enough for england, then I'll just start a foundation in North America dedicated to science and discovery and the preservation of these things.

" Isn't that interesting? Had nobody to leave it to, no family, no son. And his own country wouldn't receive him. Friendship: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "two are better than one," and this is of course where our memory verse comes from. "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor." And I want to stop there. What is the good reward for the labor if two are better than one? First of all, have you ever tried to enjoy something by yourself? Isn't it nicer to enjoy something with somebody? Have you ever seen some remarkable sunset, and you look around to point and say, "wow, look at that!" And there's nobody there? And you go, "well, thanks, Lord, but it'd sure be nice to share this with somebody.

" And say, "look at that!" Isn't it nice to just like, you know, commiserate with somebody and say, "isn't that wonderful?" Commiserate is the wrong word, but you knew what I meant. "For they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall," in other words, if one of them falls, "one will lift up his companion." And this is one of the most poignant verses in the Bible, "but woe to him who is alone when he falls." And it's so sad; some people are alone. And you know you've heard these stories about people live a long life, their spouse dies, they're living by themselves at home. You get older and you get a little trembly, your balance isn't as good and they fall at home.

And they made a commercial out of that. "I've fallen and I can't get up." And people are giving these buzzers and panic buttons and things, because it's terrible to fall and be alone and have to crawl around or try and get some help, or hope someone just comes over to help you. Some people fall spiritually and they don't have anybody to help 'em up. That's when it's also a real tragedy. "Woe to him who is alone when he falls.

" You know, they say that when people come to church for the first time, they're baptized in an evangelistic meeting, the research tells us that--and again, I'm going from memory here--they need to develop six or seven relationships in that church within the first few months, or they will not last two years. They've got to have a relationship with six or seven people in that church for them to survive. Now there are exceptions. There are people who slink in and they slink out. And they're just very quiet people, and they want to be left by themselves.

And they may manage to go on a long time like that. You know there's people like that. They don't want to be bothered. They don't want relationships. But they just come for church and they leave, very timid people, secretive, secluded.

But most people grow in relationships. And when people become part of a new church, don't get mad if someone sits in your place that you've been sitting in for 30 years. I've seen that at evangelistic meetings. New people show up and they come, they don't know that that's your assigned seat. And Sabbath morning, they come and they plop down.

And you glare at them. You know, they need, they need relationships these folks. And then you can tell them that's your seat. But you know really we need to develop, we need to reach out and get to know these people and make friends with them. Because it's a proven fact that if they develop six or seven relationships in the first few months that they're there, there's an excEllent chance that they'll become rooted and locked in.

If they don't, the data suggests that after 2 years, you may lose 'em. And so we need each other. So when one falls--and then the other thing that happens is if the person gets discouraged and they start staying at home, if they've got six or seven relationships in the church, one person might not notice. They might think, "oh, they're on vacation. They're visiting another church.

" It's so tough for our pastors, because sometimes we call people after they're not there for a couple weeks and they say, "pastor, why you checking on me? I'm fine. I was out of town." And they kind of resent it. And then you don't call 'em, and they said, "you know I was on death row in icu and you didn't call." And nobody told us. And they resent that. Or they get discouraged and they said, "you know, I got real discouraged and I wasn't in church for a month and nobody called me.

" And we didn't know. And so it's hard when you've got a church with a thousand members in it to keep track of everybody who's there every week, unless the others have developed relationships. That's really the best purpose of the elders is if the elders have everybody is involved in some ministry or some district, so they are able to be under shepherds. And then to assign shepherds under them to make sure everybody is connected. That's the key in a healthy church.

We all need to be connected somehow. Even if the people who sneak in and sneak out, you ought to just hold 'em up one day and say, "what is your name? We're gonna be watching for you. We're glad you're here." And just let 'em go and just say they're back. But the church is a place where we're the body of Christ. We need to be connected.

Amen? "Woe to one who is alone when he falls, he has not another to help him up." Someone read for me Mark 6:7. Somebody else read for me Luke 10:1. Alright, let's start with Mark 6:7, a volunteer somewhere? Sergio? Okay. Adam, you see him? And somebody over here maybe will do for me Luke 10. What did I say? Verse 1.

Got a hand right here. Pancho? Who's gonna do this one? I forget. Sergio, you got your microphone? Yes. Go ahead. Do that one.

Mark 6:7, "and he called unto him the 12, and began to send them forth by 2 and 2, and gave them power over unclean spirits." How did Jesus send them out? Two by two. The twelve only? Somebody read for me Luke 10:1. You got that? "After this the Lord appointed 72 others, and sent them 2 by 2 ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go." How did Jesus send out the apostles and the disciples? What numerical sequence? Two by two. Why? How did Paul go out? Was it Paul by himself, or was it Paul and barnabas, Paul and silas, barnabas and Mark? Why did they go two by two? So they could help each other up. Bless their hearts, I may not agree with the theology and the message of the mormons and the jehovah witnesses.

I would respectfully disagree with a number of aspects of their message. But their method of going out two by two is a biblical method. And it is not only is it good for protection that you go about two by two, but one is able to pray while the other one talks, one is able to train while another one learns. And you know our church teaches this is the best method, just not in a lot of people following it. Here we've got the message.

Need to start using more of the method and have people going out, giving Bible studies. In our afcoe program, when we send people out, we match them up biblically two by two. Send 'em out. When you look, even after Jesus ascended to heaven, you notice that the disciples seemed to pair up: andrew, James, Peter, John. All the time, "Peter and John went to the temple," Peter and John did this.

They have evidently were buddies. And they became a pair. And the great reformation was not just martin luther, it was luther and melancthon. He was his buddy. And their personalities sort of balanced each other out.

One was more thoughtful and pensive and writing and studious. And the other one was more bold and outspoken. And you know sometimes you need to pair 'em up so they balance each other out that way. But it's God's plan that he sends us out two by two. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses.

" Now sometimes you might even have three go. And remember when Paul and barnabas were gonna take Mark. They did take Mark on their first trip. And that was a three-fold group there. Sometimes Paul worked with aquila and priscilla, another three-fold group.

"In the mouth of two or three witnesses. Something else is when you're sharing a message, and there are two people sharing a message in a Bible study, it adds credibility to the message. They've proven this. I don't know if you've ever gone to buy a car, especially if it's a new car, you'll work with a salesmen for a little while. But if you get where they're going to start negotiating a deal, they bring in a closer, and two work together.

How many of you know what I'm talking about? Some of you say, "I've never bought a new car. I have no idea what you're talking about." But they know that there's a psychology that people were more prone to listen to. I've got one member that I won't identify. And she said, "you know I bought a car this last week, bought a new car." I said, "yeah." She said, "I'm disappointed. I didn't really want it.

" I said, "why'd you buy it?" She said, "well, these two salesmen," she says, "I was talking to one of them, the two of them kind of got me together and they just told me how much I needed it and how perfect this was and it was just right for me and the deal couldn't be turned down. And there was just so much pressure there, I couldn't say no." That happens more than you think. People get roped into things that just there's the credibility and the power. No one wants to say, no one person wants to say no to two people. And so I'm not saying that you should coerce and to pressure people when you give a Bible study, but there is something in the human nature where when you got two witnesses that are saying--you know not just one lunatic roaming around by themselves, you get two credible people that are saying, "you know this is the truth.

This is what we believe." And if you get three witnesses, it's even--a three-fold court is even stronger. And so it adds credibility. "Again," verse 11, "if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm? Though one might be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." You know if you've got partnership, you can gather warmth from each other. We--it's been cold here in Sacramento.

Amen? Matter of fact, this morning on my way to church, somebody, something had happened, some truck a bunch of water had run out of this truck, and then it froze on the street right there at fair oaks and monroe, I guess. And I went and stopped on my brakes as I do, 'cause the light changed and I started sliding into the car ahead of me, just my little abs checked in. You know what that is? Ddddd! And stopped me and pulled off to the side. Praise the Lord. And then I looked at steven and we looked across the street and there were two wrecked cars being loaded up on tow trucks.

I thought, I knew exactly what happened to them. Something happened, got the street all wet, and it froze. We had a fire last night because it's been cold in our little insert. And Karen went and put a piece of wood on the fire. And I said, "dear, that's not going to burn very well.

" 'Cause she put one piece on, and I speak fluent fire. I said, "two pieces burn better together." You all know that. Two pieces, they kind of work to keep the heat going. You throw one log onto a pile of coals and it may just smolder all night and go out. Two together just creates the convection, dynamics to keep the fire going.

So it's that way too with relationships. We need to encourage and pray for one another. Can two be warm if they lie down together? I remember one time when I first ran away from home, no second time I ran away from home. It was--i just want to be accurate. I don't remember if this is in the book or not, but a friend of mine, his name was David mcclean.

And we ran away. We went up into the mountains near west point. I just knew the area from when I went to military school there in New York military academy. And I said, "we're gonna live in the hills." I had read some book about walden's pond or something, and I was just gonna live in the woods. So we went up in the mountain.

Except we were not very smart. We grew up in New York city. We ran away in the middle of winter. And we didn't have quite enough money for all of the arctic gear we would have needed. And so we bought one tent, one sleeping bag.

And we went hiking up, through the snow, and instead of going to the valley where it would have been a little warmer; we went to a top of a mountain. I don't know. We were just, ya know, young, -years-old, dumb, no wilderness experience, lived in a city all our lives. And we pitched our tent along the snow on top of a mountain. And we're freezing.

But we thought, "ah, we're free at last." And so in the tent, we cooked our dinner with this little sterno. You know these little cans of sterno? We cooked our can of beans or something with the sterno. We ate it, and then we both--one sleeping bag. And it was really difficult for us because we were both thoroughly wanting to be manly, but we were gonna freeze to death. So we both climbed into this one sleeping bag.

Lord as my witness. No hanky panky. We were just trying to stay warm and 'cause we were freezing to death. Well, you know what happened? The heat of the sterno, we were trying to heat up the tent. So we left the little sterno can burning, this little pup tent.

And then the heat of our bodies, we were managing to stay warm. But eventually, we woke up in a puddle of water; because we had melted the snow we had pitched the tent on. And it just kind of came bubbling up through the tent floor. And now we were soaking wet. And I'm not sure how to tie this into the study, but I just, I knew exactly what it meant.

We didn't manage to fall asleep, because we finally got warm when we got in the same sleeping bag. And it was just a matter of survival. Can two be warm? Those of you who are married, you know sometimes in cold weather, you have to make up. You might not want to make up, but you, "man, I'm gonna freeze to death if I don't." I'll take it those that laughed, that was a laugh of agreement or recognition. Alright here, we're almost done.

Chapter 4:13, "better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who would be admonished no more. For he comes out of prison to be king, although he was born poor in his kingdom." Now it's interesting that I looked in the commentaries on this verse, 'cause it sounds kind of strange. In the targum, which is a version of the old testament written while they were in Babylon, there's a comment on this verse. And it says this, it says, "this is speaking of Abraham. The targum applies this to Abraham who was a poor child, only of 3 years of age, who was alive before nimrod died.

" Now I looked at the time lines yesterday, and I'm not sure that Abraham was born by the time nimrod died. Nimrod would have had to live over 300 years for that to happen. And but this is what their tradition says. "And Abraham, even 3 years old, had the Spirit of prophecy and he reproved nimrod who was now an old king, who put him in a furnace of fire. But the Lord delivered Abraham miraculously.

And then Abraham came to this land and became a king in the land of canaan." That's the Jewish tradition about this verse. I don't think that's what it's talking about. I just thought I'd tell you that's what the Jewish tradition of that verse is. Think about that. A young, poor youth and an old, foolish king.

Who is Solomon's father? David. What was David's status when he first came to serve under Saul? He was a poor shepherd boy. And Saul had become an old, foolish king that would not be admonished. He would not listen to anybody. And yet there was a great trading of places, wasn't there? David ended up being king.

Isn't that right? "For he comes out of prison to be king." Now that word prison there can also be translated like captivity. David was hiding from Saul. He was living like a captive. He was on the run. He was a fugitive, had a price on his head.

And he came from being all over the phone posts, telephone poles all over Israel, "wanted dead or alive, David." He went from that to being king overnight. So I really think Solomon's talking about the experience of his father, which is naturally still fresh in his mind. Joseph came out of prison and became king. Isn't that right? I think we got time here for our last two verses. Ecclesiastes 4:15-16, "I saw all the living who walk under the sun; they were with the second youth who stands in his place.

" Now Solomon was the second youth. He was The Son, first of all, the first son of David and bathsheba died. Solomon was the second son. The first sons of David who should have reigned by virtue of their age, died: absalom, amnon, adonijah, but the second son, Solomon, reigned. And "there was no end of all the people over whom he was made king.

" I think he's surely talking about himself, because when Solomon first became king, what did he say? "You have made me king over this people that are more vast than the sands of the sea." And so it's a little cryptic, but you're reading the wisest man who ever lived, so don't be surprised it's a little deep. But I think he's talking about his own experience here. And we're out of time. I want to remind our friends who are watching. The free offer for today's study is "teach us to pray," written by yours truly.

Just call 866-788-3966, we'll send it to you. And ask for offer number 717. God bless you until our next time to study together.

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