The Way of the Wind

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10, Deuteronomy 15:7-11, Isaiah 55:6-13
Lesson: 12
Solomon turns again to the mystery of God. He tells us to enjoy our lives, but warns against finding pleasure in the wrong places.
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Good morning and welcome to Sacramento "central study hour." We want to welcome those of you who are here joining us in the church, those of you who are watching on television, listening on the radio, or on the internet live. We want you to just come and join and feel welcome as part of the family. And as our tradition is we start with praises to God and singing hymns.

This morning, our first hymn will be 512, "just when I need him most." This is a request from Peter delhove from madagascar and from joyanne riley from brooklyn, New York. We want to thank you for this request. Jesus is there whenever we need him most, 512. We're gonna sing the first, second, and fourth verses... Praise God.

Do you feel him here near you, comforting and cheering you? Just when you need him most. Our next song we're going to sing--well, first let me invite you. If you have a hymn request, we love to hear from everybody watching, those of you are here. Just go to our website and make your request. And if you're ever in the Sacramento area, please come and join us here in the congregation.

We'll save you a front seat if you'd like to come join us. We're going to sing this morning hymn number 214. This week the writer of this song passed away. And we want to sing it in memory of him and in praise of Jesus and praise of the blessed hope that Jesus is gonna come again and take us to heaven with him. So let's turn in our hymnals to .

There are two verses to this song. And we'll sing both of them. And this is also a request from John shoemaker in grand island, Nebraska, pic wang tang from singapore, betty callahan from Colorado, Paul wilkinson from barbados, and raquel lightburn from the bahamas. Thank you for this request. And let's turn in our hymnals to , "we have this hope.

.." Amen. You know I so long for the day when we get face-to-face, get to stand there and just praise God, face-to-face with Jesus. And finally give him the adoration that he has so long deserved. Just to say hallelujah, hallelujah, Christ is king. Amen? Let's bow our heads.

Heavenly Father, we just thank you so much for loving us, loving us so much that you gave us Jesus Christ. And he is our king. We want him king of our lives today. Heavenly Father, we pray that you send your Holy Spirit to guide our study this morning. We pray that you would speak through Pastor Doug as we delve deeper into Ecclesiastes, Lord.

Thank you so much. In Jesus' Name, amen. Now our lesson study will be brought to us this morning by Pastor Doug Batchelor. Morning. Thank you, jenny and our musicians for leading us in that song.

We appreciate it. That is an encouraging anthem. We have this hope. I want to welcome our friends who are watching on tv, some are listening on the radio, and however you are tuning in, we're happy to have you part of our Sabbath school study. We're going on with our study in Ecclesiastes.

And this is the 11th chapter we're considering today, which is actually lesson number 12. The chapters and the lessons have all been staggered by one. So we're on Ecclesiastes 11. And we have a free offer as we always do. It's the book, "assurance," is what we're offering to anybody who would like a free copy.

Just call the number, -788-3966. We're more than happy to send that to you. And ask for the free study guide, "assurance." It's offer number 727. And of course, if you're watching on tv, you see that on the screen. If you're listening on the radio, we hope you jotted that down.

Ecclesiastes 11, but we have a memory verse first. And the lesson is titled, "the way of the wind," the way of the wind. And our memory verse is Ecclesiastes 11:5, and I appreciate if we can do that in chorus here at Sacramento central. Are you ready? "As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her that is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes all things." And of course that is one of our verses that we will consider in more detail in a little bit. But you know what I would like to do? This is a short chapter.

I'd like to read it just from bow to stern, verses 1 through . And then we're gonna go back. I will be asking you to read the different verses as we consider them point by point, just want to make sure we have a couple of microphones here. Okay, there's James with one and pancho with the other. Okay, so we've got them tracked down.

Let me just read this for you, if that's okay. "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth. If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if the tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there shall it lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.

As you do not know what is the way of the wind," or spirit some versions say, "or how the bones grow in the womb of her that is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes all things. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good. Truly light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun; but if a man lives many years and rejoices in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. All that is coming is vanity. Rejoice, o young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.

Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity." Oh, there's a lot there to consider. Tell you what, why don't we go ahead and we'll dive right in here. Let's get to verse number 1. Someone read that for me again. I'll take a volunteer to read Ecclesiastes 11:1.

And I got a couple hands here. Just pick somebody please. "Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days." Now, what bread is Solomon talking about. Is he talking about taking your rolls from lunch and tossing them out in the ocean? What is that bread that we are to cast upon the waters? I heard a story about an australian family that went for a picnic to the beach. Of course, most of the major cities in australia are on the beach or on the water: melbourne, sydney, caines, perth, so forth.

And they had baked a loaf of bread. The lady of the house had baked a loaf of bread to take on the picnic. And for whatever reason, she had left it in the oven too long. And so when they first got there to the beach and they tried to break it, they said, "this is hard as a rock." And the husband said, "well, we won't be eating this." And so he took it and he hurled it out into the sea. Next week, they came back on Sunday for another picnic.

Guess what washed up? Washed back up again. It was much softer and saltier. But I'm not--i don't think they ate it. What is this talking about? What is bread biblically speaking? John 6:35, matter of fact, let's go to John 6. There's quite a bit of nutrition here in this chapter that gives us information on what is that bread that we're thinking about? John 6 and if you look at verse 35-- do I have a volunteer maybe who will read that for me? Got right here, mike, why don't you read John 6:35? "And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life.

He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.'" Alright, so what is that bread? It's Christ is the word. And Christ is the bread. Matter of fact, if you have doubts, look at verse 48, "I am the bread of life." Verse 49, "your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they're dead. For this is the bread that comes down from heaven, that one might eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven.

If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the world.' The jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, 'how can this man give us his flesh to eat?' And Jesus said, 'most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of The Son of man and drink his blood, you shall have no life in you.'" How much life? No life. "'Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.'" Then verse 58, "'this is the bread that came down from heaven, as your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.

'" Alright, so what is the bread? When we sing that song, [sings] "break thou the bread of life Dear Lord to me," what are we talking about? It's the Word of God. So, what is the water? Someone please read for me Revelation 17:15. I'll give you a minute to find that, 'cause you probably didn't know where I was going. Birdie's got it. Revelation 17:15.

We found out what the bread is. We found out what the water is. They say if you're bad you go to jail and they feed you bread and water. What's the bread and water? "Then the angel said to me, 'the waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.'" Alright, "cast thy bread upon the waters, for after many days it shall return to thee." First of all, the Spiritual lesson here is we are to share Christ with the world. "Cast thy bread upon the waters, for after many days it will return to thee.

" When you are engaged in sharing Christ with others, if that's the mission of your life, the bread is gonna return to you. What happened when the disciples broke the bread and gave it away? They gave it to the people, the waters. Were they fed in the process? You would think so. There are 12 baskets of leftovers. Bread is one of the basics of life.

Jesus said, "I am the bread." You notice he didn't say, "I am the ice cream of the world." It did not say, "I am the chocolate of the world." He did not say, "I'm the broccoli of the world." It might even be good things. He said, "I am bread." Bread is a very basic element. And you know, you might be in the poorest hovel, and they're eating their bread. You can be at the richest banquet, and you could be at some french palace that's spread with every delicacy, but somewhere on that table, what are they gonna have? They're gonna have bread somewhere. Even in the American culture, I bet you can't name a fast food restaurant that doesn't have bread somewhere at the core of its food.

You go--of course, pizza is what? It's bread. Taco bell, what do they wrap the beans in? Bread. A hamburger, it's a piece of beef slapped between two pieces of bread. Go to an italian restaurant, they even have fast italian food now. Do you get rolls? Yeah, you do.

You can even go to the chinese restaurant and they got these chinese nachos is what I call 'em that you dip in the sweet and sour. There's bread somewhere. And actually rice is the chinese version of bread. It's your starch. And so bread is the core ingredient.

It's the staff of life. And so when the Lord tells us to "cast our bread on the waters," first and foremost, we are to share Christ with the world. But sometimes bread is also thought of as your necessities that sustain life, giving to those that are hungry. Jesus tells a story about the parable, what of--which of you who has a friend at night that knocks on your door, and says, "please give me some bread because a stranger came to me and I have nothing to set before them." And you'll give them bread. And so talking about giving to the hungry, giving to the poor.

We are to share our bread with others. So there's a lesson here in charity and generosity. Someone read another statement of Solomon, Proverbs 22:9, Proverbs 22:9. Now who would do that for me? I see a hand right here. It's not too far away from Ecclesiastes.

"He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor." Well, that's clear enough. So part of casting our bread on the waters is sharing the resources that Jesus gave with you. The best thing you can share, first of all, is spiritual bread. Remember in that great judgment day, "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

" Part of Christianity is that we are invited to be a channel of blessing. We give of our bread to the hungry. He says, "he that has a bountiful eye shall be blessed, for he gives his bread to the poor." In other words, in giving to others, you might expect it to come back to you. It's often true. He who remembers the poor, God will remember him.

"Blessed are the merciful, they will find mercy." If you're generous with others, God will be generous with you. It's just a law of life. "Give and it'll be given to you: good measure, pressed down, running over, will men heap into your bosom. For with what measure you meet it will be measured to you again." And you can't out give God. Isaiah 58:7, when it talks about one of the basic priorities of life, what is the fast that God has chosen? How does he respond? Is not this the fast? "Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, that you bring the poor that are cast out into your house; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you do not hide yourself from your own flesh?" There's a promise for a blessing you find in Deuteronomy 15:7.

I'm gonna read 7-11 here. "If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God has given you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him willingly," that's like cheerfully. "Willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought," or a covetous thought, "in your heart, saying, 'the seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,'" let me explain real quick. In the Jewish law, every 7th year, you were to forgive the debts.

And you are to let the captives go. And so you're not gonna lend to your poor brother because, oh, he's about to be released. He's gonna file bankruptcy and he won't have to repay me. So wait until the year of release has passed, then lend to him. Then he's obligated for 6 more years.

And so here the Lord is saying, "don't be thinking, 'well, I'm not going to lend to him now, 'cause I may not get my money back.'" He says, if there's this evil thought "in your heart, saying, 'the seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cries out to the Lord against you, and it becomes a sin among you. You shall surely give to him, your heart should not be grieved when you give to him," don't be reluctant. Give cheerfully. "Because of this thing, for the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all which you put your hand to." What is a promise? "Cast your bread on the waters, and it will return to you." the Lord will bless you. God is not gonna forsake you if you care for others.

"To which you put your hand. For the poor," notice this. "For the poor will never cease from the land." Even when God had blessed them, there were always some who were poorer than others. Now you notice how I worded that. You'll always have the poor.

Now poor is a relative term, isn't it? It's kind of like wide and tall and short. It's something we often compare to. Some of the well-off, middle-class in india would be considered poor here. And people in America who fancy themselves poor by many third world standards are rich. But we have in our midst people that we comparatively think of as poor.

When you think of poor in india and nigeria and some of these countries, you are talking about someone who is laying on the ground, starving to death and naked. That might be different in our country. When we think of somebody who is poor, we mean they don't have money to go to the grocery store. They might have to go to a soup kitchen or something. And so, you know, some of it's relative.

But you're always gonna have people who have less than you, even right up to the second coming, even in a country that's blessed. Don't forget those people who are not as fortunate and to be generous. Now, someone read for me Ecclesiastes 11:2. We're just getting to the second verse. Got a hand right here.

He was the quickest on the draw, so he gets to fire the Scripture. "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight, for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth." It's telling us that let our hospitality be extensive and our alms liberal. We don't know what reverses might follow that person. When we were in india--i always hesitate to mention something like this, because it's like advertising a good deed and you lose your reward. And I don't want to lose my reward, but I may lose it now.

When we were in india one night, on our way to our hotel, we drove by a poor, a very poor man who was living on the street. He was an elderly man. And everything he owned was in this little square around him, quite literally. And that night, he just kind of rolled out a piece of dirty cloth and laid on it. And that was his bed.

That was his house. He had a little, looked like a little cookstove. He cooked his food there. And you've got to be careful when you give in some of these countries that you do it very discretely, because you can get absolutely swarmed with people who are begging, to your own danger as well as theirs. We've done it where there were crowds that were watching; you give to one beggar, and the others basically beat him up and take it from him.

So you need to be very discrete. And one night coming back from the meeting, we saw the man that was there. There's nobody around. And I told our driver, "turn around." We gave him something. And he was so gracious.

He was so happy. And he was going, oh, just very thankful. It made us feel good. So we drove to our room. The next night he was gone.

And he was an old man. And we wondered, did he die? Never saw him again the rest of our meetings. Or did we give him so much that he upgraded? We didn't know what happened. And so when you give, you never know, it might be the last opportunity. And at the same time, while we were on a public square, swarming with traffic, as often does, a poor beggar came.

And it was a lady with a child and she was, you know, they call you, "papa, papa." And they're saying, "father, help." And it's just heart wrenching. And I had made up my mind. I said, "as soon as we're done here." I'm standing on the street. I'm just waiting for somebody. I said, "as we get ready to leave, I'll give it.

" Because I've gotta be able to do it and jump in my car, because people especially in a busy circle like that, people just come swarming out of the corners. There's just a lot of folks who are watching. And I turned away for a minute to see when my buddy was gonna be finished with his business. I turned back; she was gone. And I looked around and I never saw her again.

And that haunts me to this day that I missed that opportunity. I mean, 'cause I have plenty to give. I mean, you know, I actually had money I had to get rid of before I left, 'cause the indian money wasn't worth too much. And I just felt so bad. There's another verse that says, "give when it's in the power of your hand to do good.

" "Give unto seven and give unto eight." God is calling us to be generous, to be liberal as Christians. I also think that when it says, "give seven," seven's a number that represents love. How many years did Jacob serve for leah? Seven. But it seemed like nothing, because of the love that he had for her. You are to give an extra portion to those that you love.

And it's like when elkanah gave more to hannah, 'cause he loved her. And so it's saying give because of love, when it's saying, "give seven and give eight." Furthermore, it says, "because you don't know," I'm still on verse 2, "you don't know what evil will be on the earth." Not only are we to give because of others, but we don't know what's gonna happen to us. Not only may this be the last opportunity for them to receive, but it might be the last opportunity for you to give. And you might need someone to give to you someday. Because you don't know the future, give while it's in the power of your hand to do it.

The other thing I've pondered when I looked at this verse is very few people regret that they did a good thing. We often regret we missed an opportunity to do a good thing. So when it's in the power of your hand to do a good thing, do it. I've had many regrets that I waited and I lost an opportunity. You don't know what's gonna happen.

Do it now. And you don't know how it will, someday you might be able to cash in your prayers, and say, "Lord, I need help now." And remember this story in Luke , Jesus tells the parable and he says, "I say to you," talks about the parable of the shrewd servant, shrewd steward. He said, "I say unto you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon," meaning worldly mammon, worldly resources, "that when they fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home." You may need some help someday. Alright, someone read for me Ecclesiastes 11:3. Brad, go ahead, hold your hand up so pancho can see you.

We also do that so that cameras can sign in on you. And our friends at home can see who it is that's reading. They'll just hear voices otherwise. Okay, Ecclesiastes 11:3. "If the clouds," if the clouds "are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.

" Alright, again he's speaking in terms of sowing and reaping and clouds and wind. What do full clouds promise? Rain. In an agricultural society, that means they're getting ready to release. When you read in Malachi 3 and it talks about God will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that you won't even have room enough to receive it. You know, sometimes in the western mind, we think that that means that God's gonna have this big slot machine up in the sky and all this money is gonna come out.

But that wasn't the mind of the Jewish people. In an agricultural society when you are shepherds, if there was no rain, there were no crops. If there was no rain, there was no feed for your flocks. And so those full clouds represented food and life and blessings. And to have full clouds float on by and not drop anything was heart wrenching.

That's why James talks about the wicked. He said, "they're like clouds without rain." They've got all the promise of abundance, but nothing comes. And so God, if he has blessed you so that you are a full cloud, why do you think he filled you? That you might shower blessings on others. Isn't that right? The clouds pass over the ocean. Through evaporation, they receive that they might come over the land and deposit.

And so the purpose for those full clouds is to be a blessing to others. Now he's speaking in broad, spiritual terms here of our lives. What is the purpose of your life? Let me, if you have any question, let's look at the big judgment day. What were the questions in Matthew 25 that the shepherd asks in the judgment? "I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty you gave me drink; I was naked and you clothed me; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was sick and you came to me; I was in the hospital, you visited--i was in prison, you visited me." All of those mean your life was a channel of good to others. The central purpose of our lives is that we might be a conduit through which God pours blessings on others.

Your life is to be a full cloud. You're to go through your life and you're to rain on the parched ground. That's one of the main purposes of our life; that our lives might be a blessing to others; that we are pouring out good deeds, encouragement, blessings to others. And how sad to go through your life and to dump it back on the ocean. Then he closes that thought by saying, "and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there shall it lie.

" I think it was carl sandburg when he talked about the death of lincoln, he said, "a tree is best measured when it's down." Selling firewood I can relate to this. I've looked at a lot of down trees. Some came down naturally. Some came down because I meddled with 'em and a chainsaw. But it's hard to measure a tree when it's standing.

When the tree is down, if you're selling firewood, you go along the tree and you notch it, so that you have your wood either inch or 16 inches, 24 inches. And you make your cuts and you Mark it. You measure it off. You can calculate your wood. Hard to do when it's standing.

But when a tree is down, it's hard to get it back up again. A tree down in the Bible represents a death. Matter of fact, I've seen down trees that I know have been down for 50 years. And there they are where they fell. Not too many people come along.

I watched a video last night that had to do with creation and evolution. And one of the things it was doing to prove that the earth is not as old as many believe, is it showed a petrified tree that went through many layers of strata that some of the evolutionists were saying represented, all these layers represented millions of years. And yet, there's one tree that's dissecting all of them. Well, that sort of blows the whole theory. How could that tree be going through several layers of millions of years if once it falls, there it lies.

And once it died, all the sediment came around it before it got to break off or rot. That can't be millions of years. Where a tree falls, there it lies. You know what else that means? What you take to the grave with you is the record you will meet in the judgment. Where the tree falls, there it stays.

You can't move it afterward. If it falls to the north; if it falls to the south, you notice he gives you two options, north or south. Two opposite options, aren't they? You know there's a difference between east and west and north and south. You can go east or west indefinitely and never get there. But when it comes to north and south, there is an end to north and south.

You got the north pole; you get the south pole. You get to the north pole, and once you're there, you keep going; you start going south. But you can go to china and still go east. Isn't that right? That means there is a termination point in your life. Opposite: saved; lost.

You got your positive pole; you got your negative pole. "Where the tree falls, north or south, there it lies." In the parable of Luke, of the rich man and Lazarus, you remember that the rich man who's in hades, he's talking to father Abraham, who is obviously in paradise. And he's saying, "father Abraham, let me-let me," oh, he says, "let Lazarus come and dip his finger in a cup of water and cool my tongue with a drop, 'cause I'm tormented in this flame." And Abraham says, "sorry, that's not possible, because between you and us there is a great gulf fixed, and those who had passed from there to here and from here to there cannot." There is no changing teams once the tree falls. Now, I can often tell which way a tree's gonna fall based on how it leans. Matter of fact, you gotta learn to read that or you can die if you're a faller.

You walk around that tree, you've gotta have some idea looking at the weight of the tree. And you know it's many inexperienced people with a chainsaw on a hillside have misjudged which way the tree was leaning, 'cause they judged it by the slope of the ground and not really which way the tree was leaning. It confused them. And they fell a tree on themselves. But a trained eye can look and tell which way a tree's gonna fall.

And usually it falls whichever way it's leaning. Does that make sense? People typically die the way they live. So many folks go through life with a very dangerous theory that they're gonna suddenly shift the tree a different direction at the last minute. That does sometimes happen, but people usually die the way they live. Sometimes there's a freak windstorm that will blow it away from where it's leaning.

But usually the tree falls the way it's leaning. Whichever way you're leaning now, north or south, is typically where the tree's gonna fall. I hope you're life's leaning the right way. Is this clear enough? He's talking in big terms of your life and that's why if you're a full cloud, be sharing with others now. Live for God now, because when the tree falls, that's where it lays.

Okay, who wants to read verse 4? Ecclesiastes 11:4, I see a couple hands. Right there, okay. And I thought I saw another hand here, maybe you can do verse 5 next, okay. Go ahead. "Whoever watches the wind will not plant, whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

" "He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap." Now this is taken two ways. First of all, how did they sow their seed back in Bible times? It's called broadcasting. They usually had this bag they would sling over one shoulder. And it had an open mouth, big bag, full of seed. And as they walked along the row, they'd go.

..they'd broadcast it, that's what it's called. And those who do a lot of sowing, they're very skilled at this. They can evenly spread it so it falls evenly. And they spread their grain that way. But it's a problem if it's raining, I mean, if the wind is blowing.

Because the wind can scatter it unevenly. How many of you have one of those little hand crank grass spreaders? I do that. You know, once or twice a year, there's a couple months in the year when it's a good idea to do it. February's usually a good month. And the rain will sprout it, or sometimes in the fall.

I go out there with my little pint-sized crank broadcaster. And I put my grass seed in and I go out. I've tried to do that a few times when it's windy and hit a few bald spots on the grass. And it just gets carried away. And so "he who observes the wind will not sow.

" And it goes on to say, "he who observes the rain, will not reap," or "the clouds will not reap." If it looks like it's getting ready to rain--how many of you have grown hay or you've cut hay or you've baled hay before? Is any left from that generation? I tell ya, that's backbreaking work depending on how heavy those bales are. But what happens if you cut your hay, stack it and then it rains on your hay? It'll rot. Matter of fact, you can even get, sometimes barns have been burnt down, because if the hay does not dry in the field, and you put green hay all stacked up, the decomposition produces so much heat, you can have spontaneous combustion. Did you know that? Some inexperienced people have stacked green hay in a barn or wet hay in a barn. And the heat from the composition ignites.

So if you think you're hay is not going to have a chance to dry after you cut it, observe the clouds. Wait. Now if it's gonna rain on standing grain, it's okay. It's standing, it'll dry out quickly. But once it falls and you've stacked it; it stays wet a long time.

So these are the things that they're thinking. But I think there's also a subtle--by the way, while we're talking about giving and the sowing and the reaping, he's talking so much about giving: give, give, give. Give seven times. Be generous. Be a full cloud.

Then he all the sudden, he says, "and he who observes the wind will not sow. And he who observes the clouds will not reap." Why does he suddenly throw that in? Are we to give indiscriminately even if it means it might turn into a loss? Do you broadcast your seed if it's gonna blow away? There are times where you need to be prudent in your sowing and your reaping, not to give recklessly. So I think that's one thing. He says, putting this little warning in here, he says, "don't be a reckless farmer and just throw away your resources." Even Jesus says something that no one ever wants to apply. "Do not cast your pearls before swine.

" Do not give that which is holy to the dogs. God wants us to be generous, but there is a time to be discrete. Now here's the other extreme. You've got some people who are always intimidated by the littlest breeze and the lightest cloud, they never sow and they never reap, because they're constantly saying, "well, couldn't. The wind might start blowing and the clouds could produce rain.

" And so they never do anything. So you got those two extremes of I've seen this interpreted both ways. Alright, what's next? Verse 5, right here. "As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything." This was our memory verse. Whoo, lot here.

I've quoted this verse many times, especially the second half of it. "As you do not know the way of the wind." Does Jesus say something about the way of the wind when he talks about--oh, and by the way, how many of you in your version, it says, "you do not know the way of the Spirit?" The word there is ruha. And it is a word that means "breath" or "wind." It is sort of an ethereal word. And so it sometimes is translated, "spirit." It's the nebulous word that means, "breath, wind, spirit," that which is not seen. Jesus said, "you can see the wind.

You can feel the wind, but you don't know where it comes from or where it goes. "The wind blows where it listeth." And Jesus talks about conversion in the terms of he wind. It's hard sometimes for us to peg down what brings about a person's conversion. Some people their conversion is [snaps] like Paul on the road to damascus. They've got a flash of lightening.

It's dramatic. Some of us have wondered, "am I really converted, because I didn't have one of these overwhelming experiences where I was overcome with tears and I fell down. And just couldn't get up." And I've heard people tell me about their experiences of conversion. And I thought, "mine wasn't so dramatic, Lord. Mine was sort of like the wind blowing.

" Maybe it's cause I'm more cerebral. It was a process of education with me. And all of the sudden I looked back and said, "wow, I'm different." And a lot of people it happens that way. It's just like they're reprogrammed. It doesn't happen with a flash of lightening.

But I know people. And it's genuine. That they just had one of these experiences that, you know, the Lord picked 'em up and slapped 'em down. And they were a different person, like flipping a pancake, converted. And it's different with everybody.

And as you do not know the way of the wind, let's say the word, "wind" there means "spirit," God's Spirit works on different hearts different ways and it's all sometimes a whole plethora of different events. What is it that makes wind blow? Who here wants to tell me, what is it that makes the wind blow? Why does wind blow? Well, let me give you some of the factors. I heard someone say temperature. Temperature affects the wind blowing. It's affected by evaporation, by water temperature, by land temperature.

It's affected by atmospheric pressure. The wind blowing and how much the wind blows is affected by the earth's rotation. It's affected by the terrain, mountains and convection. A lot of other things I'm not mentioning here, including the beating of birds wings. Yep, I didn't say how much wind, did i? All these things affect the wind.

Alright, now with that in mind, then he says, "you do not know the way of the wind." Can weathermen sometimes miscalculate how much the wind is gonna blow and the direction the wind is gonna blow and at what time the wind is gonna blow? I mean it is such an unpredictable dynamic. And the way God's Spirit works is a mystery. Even here in our modern society, there are so many factors that it sometimes is unpredictable. The wind blows different speeds, different elevations. And then he says something here that is tied into that, "or how the bones grow in the womb of her that is with child.

" Wow. It is such a miracle to me, and I've said this many times, how little people come out of big people. And how through an act of love, you get an unpredictable element of components from The Father and from the mother. You don't know what the ratios will be. The same father and mother have ten kids and no two of them look alike.

And of course, we've all seen families where they have ten and they all look alike, like the osmonds. You can tell they're all, all related. But sometimes they're just, you know my brother and i, same mom and dad. He had brown eyes; I've got blue eyes. He had red hair; I've got no hair.

He had freckles. I'm a little more olive. It's just--people used to say, "you're brothers?" And so how does God know what percentages and ratios of these genes and dna are gonna coalesce and create this new creature? And then what's really amazing is you get these little, microscopic cells of jelly and they end up producing something with bone, with a framework of bone that is growing in the system. And the bones grow in their proper place. I mean, you know, sometimes you might get a little calcification that forms on another bone.

But for these bones to suddenly grow within this liquid in a uniform frame, is that a miracle? That's why even Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, he said, "who can tell, who knows how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child." It is such a mystery. For me one of the things that--i was listening to a tape this week--I'm gonna interrupt myself. You're forgiven. Thank you very much--i was listening to a tape this when someone was saying a lot of college students enter medicine atheists, but after they study human anatomy, they become only agnostics, or at least believe in intelligent design. Because they say, "this could never happen without some intelligent design behind it.

" And I'm talking about secular colleges. You do the survey, a lot of them think they're very liberated. They call themselves atheists. And then after they get through their first year of medical school and anatomy, they have changed. It's a very interesting study.

So how life forms is such a miracle and such a mystery. "So you do not know the works of God who makes everything." Not only is it with the bones of a child growing in vitro, but take a tree, take a fish, take anything in life. And the closer you look at what God has made, the more mysterious it becomes. If you get out your microscope or you get out your telescope, all you can do is say, "wow." What God has made is so phenomenal. Even Solomon admits that.

Alright, let's keep going now. What are we at, verse 6? Alright, who will read verse 6 for me? Got a volunteer, somewhere? Okay. Ecclesiastes 11:6. "Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle; for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well." Be generous at all times, in the morning, in the evening, when there's a lot of opportunity and when there's not. Sometimes we reserve our generosity.

We say, "oh, you know, why help that person because they're old and their life's ready to perish? And why don't you help this young person and they got the whole day before them?" And it says, "do your good in the morning and in the evening." And you don't know what the affect of that is going to be on everybody. Hosea 10:12-13, what is this sowing and reaping it's talking about? "Sow to yourselves in righteousness; and reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground." So here, even Hosea is playing off the words of Solomon, he's he's saying, "sow righteousness." Plant the seeds of goodness everywhere you go. "In the morning and in the evening do not withhold your hand." One commentator, looking at this, he brought out an interesting point. He said--well, let me back up and tell you. You know, if you're planning your investment strategy for your life, one of the rules that investment advisors have across the board is don't be afraid of risk in the morning.

But be more careful in the afternoon. In other words, early in your life when you're young and you've got a lot of earning potential still ahead of you, you can afford to take some risk. If you don't ever take risk, usually the big gains are associated with big risk. But as you get on a little later in life, you better be more conservative in your investments, because you've gotta be able to retire on that. How many of you have heard this strategy before? It's pretty basic stuff.

With that in mind, not only are we to give when we are young--you know, sometimes I think when I was a little younger, and you know, you've only got $10, it doesn't bother you so much to give away $5. You're giving 50% away, but you don't care, because you don't have much anyway. And so you're a little more generous and you're a little more reckless when you're young. And you're just hitchhiking around the country. But you get a little older and you start thinking about retirement, we sometimes a little more cautious in our giving.

And he said, "not only give in the morning, but give in the evening." And God will take care of you both times. Corinthians 8:1-2, "moreover, brethren, we do to you with the grace of God bestowed on the churches of macedonia: how that in great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." Let me translate that a little more simply. Paul here is commending the churches of macedonia who even though they were poor, in their poverty, they gave to the church in Jerusalem that was struggling with a famine. And he said, "they gave even when they couldn't afford to give. And God said it brought him great joy.

Ecclesiastes 11:7, got someone to read that for me? Over here, hold your hand up so they can see you. Ecclesiastes 11:7, I better go ahead and hand the others out. Who will read verse 8? We're almost out of time, maybe someone over here where the other microphone--verse 8? Hold your hand up so pancho can see you there. Okay, who's got verse 7? Go ahead. "Truly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.

" Thank you. The sun is indirectly the source of all life on earth. I'm not proposing sun worship, but it is true that photosynthesis, photosynthesis can be traced to vegetation having light, the energy that gives the animals life, and if the sun were to stop shining for very long, everything would die. Is that right? In the same way, seeing the light gives life. Jesus said in Matthew 6:22, "the lamp of the body is the eye.

If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light." He says, rejoice in the light. It's a sign of life. "Truly light is sweet and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun." You ever gotten up in the morning, you walk outside on a spring morning, and you just see that morning light refracting off the flowers and the dew drops. And it's just joyful to behold. He compares that with life and light.

Again, Malachi 4:2, "but unto you who fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." Not only is Jesus the bread of life, what else did Jesus say he is? Well, here it says, "the sun of righteousness," s-u-n, speaking of Christ, right? Jesus says, "I am the light of the world." Not only does he say, "I am the living water." And "I am the bread that came down from heaven." He said, "I am the light." So it is good for us to behold the light. It's pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun. Verse 8, do we have a hand? Yes. "If a man live many years and rejoice in them all, let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh in vanity.

" If we are living a life of righteousness, of sowing and reaping for God, of being a channel of blessing, God wants us to rejoice in our life. Doesn't Jesus say, "it's more blessed to give than receive?" You notice what's implied in that? He wants you to be blessed. Does the Lord want you to give? Does he want you to be blessed? There's a blessing in it. And so rejoice in that. But keep in mind, as you go through this life that comparatively the days of the grave, darkness--the state of man in death, I even read that in adam clarke recognized what that's talking about.

Before the resurrection, they are many. So make the most of this life's opportunity to do good. And rejoice in that, because you can't do it once you're dead. How many times have we found in Ecclesiastes when he says, "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there's no wisdom or knowledge or device in the grave where you're going." If you want to do good, do it now. Isn't that right? How many people go through their lives saying, "yeah, if I win the lottery, then I'm gonna give to the church.

One of these days, God gives me a new cadillac, a new limo, then I'll bring people to church." And they just don't ever do anything, 'cause they're always planning someday, somewhere. And their lives go by and they miss the opportunity to be a blessing, to do their sowing and reaping. Do it now. Verse 9, just about out of time, got a volunteer to read verse 9 for me? Got a hand right back here. Go ahead please.

"Rejoice, o young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment." Well that's a very powerful statement. By the way, I don't want to infringe on the next study very much, but probably this is where you ought to be starting chapter , or even maybe the previous verse as well. He's beginning to say, "alright, let's conclude everything. You've got a life to live. Rejoice in your life.

And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. You know one of the problems with youth, youth is vanity in that so many people when they're young, they're in a hurry to grow up. And they're not enjoying it. I've had to tell my kids many times, enjoy being young. I mean they complain about things that if we could only have their problems, right? And my boys were bickering this morning over something that they thought was a problem, and I wish that was my biggest problem.

And just enjoy your youth. You know, enjoy your vigor. My father used to always say, "youth is wasted on the young." And James dobson put it this way, he said, "about the time your face clears up, your mind gets fuzzy." And you can't remember anymore. And boy, I just had such a photographic memory practically when I was young. And now it's so pathetic.

Now I know what's really important and I can't remember it. You get a little older. "Rejoice in your youth. And let your heart cheer you." "Walk in the ways of your heart." And that means a heart that is sanctified and the sight of your eyes. He's defined these things.

"But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment." Some people say, "I'm gonna follow my heart." Well, well enough, but no, you better make sure that you're not just being guided by your personal inclinations, 'cause you're judged for all these things. Now in the book ecclesiasticus, not Ecclesiastes, this is one of the pseudepigraphal books, from before the time of Christ. He says, but it's a good statement, "whatsoever you take in hand, remember thine end and you will never do amiss." You'll never sin. Another is, "whatever you do, keep in mind as you go through life what the end of all things is. And if you remember the end of all things, it helps you avoid mistakes.

Last verse, verse 10, "therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity." You notice how he says that? "Therefore," because we'll be brought into judgment for all things, "remover sorrow," "be happy," but "put away evil." Is it possible to be happy, put away sorrow and evil at the same time? Some people think, "oh, if I put away evil, I can't be happy." Solomon says, "you can do both. Just live a life that is a channel of blessing." Thank you so much, friends, for studying with us. We got through the chapter. I want to remind our friends who are watching about the free offer. We'll send it to you just for asking.

It's a book called, "assurance: justification made simple." Please call the number on your screen. We'll be happy to send you a free copy of that. God bless you to our extended class. And by the grace of God, we'll be studying together again next Sabbath.

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