Saturday, September 14, 2013

Four Keys to Greater Meaning in Life - Ecclesiastes 4

On casual reading, one may think that Ecclesiastes is about vanity and meaninglessness. Don't be fooled, it is actually telling you how to find the real meaning of life. This chapter 4 gives you four keys: 1 right the wrongs, 2 have work-life balance, 3 co-operate with others 4 get wisdom and live out your dream now; poverty cannot stop you.

The Ecclesiastes 4 mind-map:
Please go through the mind-map and try to answer the questions.
Here are the four keys to greater meaning in life.

1 Oppression - Righting the Wrongs gives meaning in life.
When there is unfairness and oppression, death seems better for oppressed. Unborn is even better. If we invert this argument, living is good when there is fairness and no oppression. Those living like us now should consider helping to make this world a place for fairness and justice.

2. Work Life Balance - Not due to Envy or Greed.
There is no meaning in working our lives away when our objective is trying to be better than others due to envy. There is on meaning also in just working hard to get more wealth due to our greed. Wealth alone does not satisfy the longing of the heart. Greed will just ask for more. It is important to live a balance life of work, rest and relationship building.

3. Co-operation is better - Do it.
Co-operation brings greater strength and is resilient to failure. Learn to co-operate with others and to get co-operation with others. Make sure the interests of others are taken care of.

4. Get Wisdom Young Men and Live out Your Dream. Poverty cannot stop you.
Wisdom and Youth are most powerful. Poverty cannot stop such a wise young man to become a powerful king. Even though one's contribution may be forgotten by latter generations, we work because it is right and not because we can get credits.

The teaching of Ancient Chinese Lao Zi's is a good companion to this wisdom from Solomon.
DaoDeJing 33

  1. Knowing the character of others is wisdom. 知人者智,  Knowing oneself is enlightenment.  自知者明。
  2. Mastering others is power and authority. 胜人者有力, Self-control is true strength.自胜者强。
  3. Contentment is richness.知足者富, Striving forward is commitment and aspiration. 强行者有志。
  4. Not losing oneself will last.不失其所者久, Died and yet one’s legacy continues is long life.死而不亡者寿。

See The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Sel...

Lim Liat (c) 13 Sep 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

How to Know the Right Thing to Do at this Time? Ecclesiastes 3

There is a right time for everything. Everything in its time is beautiful. These are the famous sayings of Ecclesiastes 3. It is not just the timing, but the right thing to do at this time. Soloman list out 8 pairs of actions to guide your decision making. He further clarified that a work is not a curse not vanity when you know that God has a calling for everyone and enables them to walk meaningfully in this life. While there are unfairness in the world, God will one day judge them all and make things right. Soloman hinted to the coming of Jesus Christ when he asked, "Who can be sure where the spirit go after this life?".
The Keys of Ecclesiastes 3 is shown in the mind-map below:

  1. Cycle of Life does not mean vanity but beauty. Everything is beautiful in its time. There is a right time for the right action. The endless cycles show the eternality or long life of God's creation.
  2. It is not just the timing but the action also. Solomon listed 8 pairs or 16 action that one need to consider when deciding what to do at a particular time.  There is no one action for all time. Base on the time, the situation, the people involve, there is right thing to do. (see also: Business Strategies and Decision Making According to the Bible). If you like to have a 64 states and actions version, you can refer to I-Ching in One Minute.
    1. To start or to end.
    2. To sow or to harvest
    3. To compete or to co-operate
    4. To tear down or to re-build
    5. To be sad or to to be happy
    6. To accumulate or to give away
    7. To be quiet or to speak up
    8. To embrace or to separate.
  3. A Standard to Follow. If there is a right thing to do at a right time, then there must be a standard of judging right or wrong. This is not situational ethics. Rather, it is the application of an absolute standard for various situations. If we don't consider the specifics of a situation and blindly apply the standard, then we commit the error of legalism. If everything is relative, then there is not standard of right and wrong. 
  4. Work is not a curse. God created man and commanded him to manage the earth in Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over. Work occurred before the sin of man in Genesis 3.
  5. We are God's masterpiece created in Christ Jesus for good work Eph 2:8. See also  You are a Masterpiece Created in Christ.
  6. What about the unfairness in this World? God will one day judge the earth. The delay of judgment is for man to see that without God, he is no better and just like animals. 2Peter 3: 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  7. Hinting about the Coming of Jesus - The man from Heaven. "Who can be sure that  human spirit goes up to God  & the spirit of an animal goes down into  ground?" Ecc 3:21   The One from heaven will know. John 3:13 NIV No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.
Lim Liat (c) 27 Aug 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Pleasures & Wealth Do not Satisfy." said the one who had gone through all - Ecclessiates 2

One of the richest and wisest kings of all time, King Solomon, pursued pleasures, wealth, great works and great wisdom told us that at the end of it all, nothing truly satisfies and all is vanity.
The mind-map for this chapter 2 is:

To discover the meaning of life, King Solomon embarked on full scale experiments of

  1. seeking pleasure of wine and wives and concubines, of songs and dances, 
  2. accumulating great wealth of not just silver and golds, but also of slaves and live stocks.
  3. building great work of houses, vineyards, gardens, parks, reservoirs. Solomon was the one who built the Temple of God.
  4. pursue of great wisdom.
It does not mean that pleasure, wealth and great works are not important. It does mean that they cannot be the highest objective of one's pursue in life. They can be the by-products or sub-objectives. By pursuing the truth one gets freedom and joy as by-products. By just pursuing wealth or happiness alone, one is never satisfied and will end in disappointment.

His conclusion was shocking to ordinary men like us, who thought highly of wealth and pleasures. He said those things could never satisfy us, no matter how much. He lamented that all his great works and wealth will be given to others after his life on earth is gone. What then is the meaning of life. He answers for us in the next chapter3.

Lim Liat (c) 23 Aug 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Loosing Our Religion and Knowing Jesus Rightly - Discussion on Tim Keller's Sermon

Understanding the modern critique of religions enables us to re-examine our own faith see it in a new light that we may embrace Jesus Christ rightly without the misuse and abuse of religion. Our faith is not to justify our evil actions, a means for wealth, health or power, to exclude others, to boss over the 'unenlightened' and the less spiritual lay people, etc. It is to realize that even our own virtues and good work are not basis for our salvation. We are to enjoy His love and extend His love to others that they may also know Him.

The Bible Study group listened and discussed on Tim Keller's 'Loosing My Religion' sermon.

We can learn much from others' critiques of us. Breaking away from our own point of view and trying to see from others' viewpoints is a good and refreshing thing to do. In the sermon, Tim Keller examined the view points of Freud, Marx and Nietzsche. We can easily see how easy it is for us to fall into the traps that they mentioned, self-justification, social or class justification and power-trip abuse of others. But our Jesus Christ is entirely different to their critiques. Jesus is anti-religions, inclusive and self-sacrificing.

Here is the mind-map that summarized our discussion, our additional reflection and sharing on the sermon.

Lim Liat (c) 13 July 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Power & Money and An Encounter that Changes Life - Learning from Tim Keller's '2 Men with Money'

Power and wealth provide illusive security that traps us in pursue of them. But power and wealth could not heal the leprosy of Namaan nor the wealth of Zacchaeus could buy true acceptance. Pride and rejection are key obstacles that stop people from encountering the true grace of God. Are we guilty of them? What are the evidences and behaviors that reveals the transforming grace of God in us? Namaan and Zacchaeus had their encounters that changed their life. Do we have any encounter that are the transforming points? Do get our of our comfort zone and groups of friends and colleagues and go and have encounters that open our minds and hearts. May we be continually refreshed and challenged to live out the Christ in us and impact our worlds for Christ.

The teachings of the Tim Keller's sermon and our discussion are summarized below:

Questions and Sample Answers for Reflections:
Hope you have an encounter that change your life for the better and glorify Christ.

Lim Liat (c) 29 Jun 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Be Accountable to God & Start Living Now - That's life from Ecclesiastes 12

After all the studies and experimentation to discover life, the Preacher/Teacher concluded that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep His commandments because God will judge man. To put it in modern term, it is "Be accountable to God and start living life to the fullest". With God in mind, life is no longer meaningless. We are created uniquely with a purpose and a calling. Our life is to live out that calling here. We are to start now, in our youth, with all our passion and strengths, and not wait till we are old when we are feeble and weak, or worse, at our last breath where we could do nothing. It will be too late to regret then.

Here is the summary map of Ecclesiastes 12:
Let us see these key verses again:
11:9 Young people,* it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. NLV.
12:1 Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old...

Please read also :
What are you waiting for?

Lim Liat (c) 13 Jun 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

22 Principles of Success in Life According to Ecclesiastes 10 & 11

Wisdom is much more than just an exhortation to get wisdom. It is the hard work of knowing exactly what are the principles that work and how to apply them. Here are 22 principles or guidelines of wisdom consolidated from my study of Ecclesiastes chapter 10 and 11.

12 Principles from Ecclesiastes 10:

10 More Principles from Ecclesiastes 11:

Perhaps you can go through them one at a time to see how they can be applied to your life.

Lim Liat (c) 12 Jun 2013

Previous: Chapter 9 Advice For Handling Our Uncertain Future
Next: Chapter 12 Be Accountable to God & Start Living Now - That's Life

Monday, June 10, 2013

Advice For Handling Our Uncertain Future - Ecclesiastes 9

While life is uncertain and unpredictable, Ecclesiastes 9 show us how to really enjoy it.
Our future is uncertain and often unpredictable. While death is the eventual destination of everyone, we don't know how, when and where. What is worse, these unpredictable patterns happen to both, the righteous and the wicked. Nonetheless, we must take  positive attitude towards life because in death, no one can do anything. We are to enjoy the food, the spouse, and the fruits of our work in this short lift that God has given to us. We need to know that there are many factors that affect the outcomes of our life. Time and Chance happen to all and history warned us that we don't really know how to manage them well.  Wisdom is powerful but no guarantee for wealth and honor. The answer is to know and fear God, do your best and enjoy the fruit of your work.

The mind-map:

Lim Liat (c) 11 Jun 2013

Previous: Chapter 8 The Key to a Happy Life - Recognize and Obey the Authorities
Next: Chapter 10&11 22 Principles of Success in Life

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Key to a Happy Life - Recognize and Obey the Authorities Ecclesiastes 8

Using King as an example of authority, the author tells us to pay attention to know the King's commands and to follow them well. Then, we will be well. Everything has the right time and the right way to handle them. But man does not know the future and has no power to control the time of death, leading to much misery. Blindness and injustice lead to righteous people treated as wicked and wicked as righteous. But God cannot be fooled and the wicked shall be punished with sudden death. The best is to follow God and enjoy the fruits of one's work ; eat, drink and be merry in the short life that God has given us.
Sometimes it helps us to better understand the Bible by paraphrasing the verses that we read. Here is my paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 8 as shown in the mind-map below:

While we cannot fully understand God, we do know enough that we need to know His ways and obey Him so that we could truly live a life of joy and enjoying the fruit of our work. We just be thankful of the short life that we have on earth. The Gospels, the Good News, is that God wants us to live longer and better life with Him. In fact , it is the eternal life with Him and with one another through receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Lim Liat (c) 9 Jun 2013

Updated Maps 25 Jun 2014

The Main Outlines:
The Full Map:

Previous: Chapter 7 Wisdom of God vs Man's Cleverness
Next: Chapter 9 Advice For Handling Our Uncertain Future

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wisdom of God vs Man's Cleverness - Ecclesiastes 7

Ecclesiastes 7 concluded with "God made man upright, but man tries many ways (to ignore God)".  Man goes after materials things - the more the merrier. God wants man with a better character and a wisdom that is based on following God's ways of working. Such wisdom of God gives life, meaning and freedom from bondage. It is more precious than money
The wisdom of man and the wisdom of God can be seen clearly in this chapter.  Man only wants more material things and pursue happiness. But God wants man to pursue character first, to be like Him. While man rejects and try to avoid adversities, God want man to learn from the adversities such as:
  • Death is better birth: Steve Jobs say that Death is the greatest invention because in the face of death, we awake to know the true priorities of life - what are important and what are not. This allows us to live life with a purpose and not to waste time.
  • Mourning is better feasting: With feasting, we just have our taste buds triggered and stomach filled. We have fun with friends but just superficially. However, when there is mourning, we feel the loss of our loved ones, whether our family members, relatives or friends. We are reminded of how they live their lives. They become a reflection for our lives. How should we live our life now and what legacies do we want to leave behind? The reality of death is most felt in the passing our beloved.
  • Sorrow than laughter: Terry Guo, founder of Foxconn, said that success is a poor teacher. We don't know learn much from success. Success makes us feel proud. Sorrow however, makes our heart tender and understanding.
  • Rebuke from the wise is better than praise from the fools:All of us want praises. But we must learn to know the true praise and the artificially buttering from people who just want to please us. True praises tell us to do more the right things. Rebukes, from the wise, and not from those that only want to hurt us, enables us to correct our mistakes so that we can become better. Often, mistake not corrected early will lead to big embarrassment later. Some people said that success may bring out the hidden sins in us. Consider the big embarrassments of successful and famous people. The sins that was there all the while was not corrected earlier.
  • Threats turn wise to fool: Under pressure, especially threats to our lives or loved ones, will cause us to loose our perspective and make bad decisions. We are taught to be led in peace. Never be forced or pushed into making an impulsive decisions. God leads us with a little voice and with peace of heart and mind.
  • Bribes corrupts: Gains, and rewards could also mislead us and cause us to loose our sense of right and wrong. Greediness is a sin that is hideous.  Gains without work is also very tempting.
  • Patient better than Proud: It takes greater strength to wait and be patient towards others and towards our goals. It is much easy to be proud and command things and people; to demand our rights and throw our weights. But arrogance leads us to rejection and failure.
  • Be not quick to get angry: The author reminded us that quick temper is the behavior of the fool. The wise control his feeling and examine them. There is nothing wrong for being angry. It is just a signal that something is wrong. But we must examine the cause of our anger. Is it because we feel we are not given the rightful treatment and respect? If so, there is pride. Is it because there is some injustice done to others? If so, we need to investigate and even make right the injustice as Jesus did in the cleaning up of the temple hawkering.
  • Do not live in the past: If the present life is more difficult than the past, then we may tend to try to go back to the good old days and neglect to do the right things now that create the better future for us. Living in memory is easier than making a meaningful future. What does God want you to do for your life?
Here is the mind-map:

Godly wisdom tells us to fear and obey God. God wants man to be like Him. God shows His ways through the ways His creation work. His laws cannot be broken or superseded by man's effort, no matter how hard he tries.

The way of God is holding both things, wisdom and righteousness, in balance and not holding on one and letting go the other.

  • Ecc 7:18 NASB  It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.

Overly righteous is righteousness without wisdom and thereby causing much hurt. It is applying truth without grace. Overly wise is wisdom is without righteousness; using wisdom to beat and cheat the system. God's way is having both wisdom and righteousness in this passage and love and justice in general.

So, fear God, know His ways and following His calling for your life that you may live meaningfully without regrets at the end of this life.

Lim Liat (c) 8 Jun 2013. Revised 16 Mar 2014.

Previous: Chapter 6 The Ironies of Life and the Search
Next: Chapter 8 The Key to a Happy Life - Recognize and Obey the Authorities

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Ironies of Life and the Search - Ecclesiastes 6

Ecclesiastes 6 shows us the 5 ironies of life. Namely, rich but short-life, long but suffering and tragic death, work and work for an appetite that is never satisfied, yet can't break out of this vicious cycle of life and not knowing what is good in the living and what happens after! Where are the wisdom and the answer?
Ecclesiastes 6 is a short chapter but with deep knowledge for our serious study. The mind-map below summarizes the teaching:

The answer lies not with the created being - man. It is with God. The main teaching of the Book of Ecclesiastes clearly shows us that unless we take a look from a higher dimension, we cannot explain this vicious cycle of living. Its conclusion is to fear and obey God. In the New Testament, we have Jesus Christ who came from the Father God, to tell and show us and make the way for us to have the meaningful and eternal life with God and with man.

Lim Liat (c) 8 June 2013

Update 8 Nov 2013
We have a discussion on this chapter and the update is summarised below:
Previous: Chapter 5 Priority of Life - Relating to God and Handling of Wealth.

Update 9 Dec 2013
See Life is about Living to Die Well -Ecclesiastes 6

Next: Chapter 7 Wisdom of God vs Man's Cleverness

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spiritual Warfare - Learning from Tim Keller

Believers are in a spiritual war against the devils who uses temptations and accusations to get believers to destroy themselves by their own power! The details of temptations and accusations are covered in depth. The solutions is to put on the full armor  of God by knowing the truth, our righteousness of Christ (not ours), assured salvation, faith in the truth, using the Word of God as weapon for deliverance, going forth to preach the Gospel of Peace, communication with God and supplication for others. Essentially, to preach to ourselves and others the Gospels of Grace so that we can stand and overcome the devils devices.

This week topic for the Bible Study Group discussion is on "Spiritual Warfare" from Tim Keller's sermon that can be found at

Spiritual Warfare Mind-map:

Discussion Questions and Sample Answer:

Hope you enjoy and learned much. We need to be on our watch against the lies of temptations and accusation from the devils. The only way to fight against such spiritual attacks, is to apply the Word of Truth, the Bible, especially the Gospel Message of Peace with God and Grace empowerment from God, to our mind and heart and to bold proclaim and deliver those in the devils bondage and deception.

See also my posts on :

Lim Liat (c) 25 May 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Keys to Peace and Joy - Learning from Tim Keller

The keys to Joy and Peace begin with proper expectation. Believers are in a spiritual warfare and hence expect to have attacks on our peace and joy. We need to have the right understanding of Peace and Joy. The enemies are our flesh(self-determination without God), world (Now'ism) and devils. We are to overcome them by presenting our needs to God with thanksgivings, focus our thoughts on the true and right, preaching the gospel to our hearts and follow the Bible. Seeing the providence of Jesus, our 'blesser', in every circumstances and not on the blessings.
The Bible Study Group discussion on "Peace and Joy" is based on Tim Keller's Sermon from: Peace– Overcoming Anxiety
  • A lot of us are cast down because we don't expect the attacks on our peace and joy that are inevitable. Much of the depression we experience is depression over our depression. We're sad that we're sad. We're surprised that we're surprised. We're upset that we're upset. Part of being upset is the anger, the guilt, and the frustration we experience as we say, "It's not supposed to be like this!" The Bible takes a positive but realistic view toward facing and overcoming the very real adversaries to inner peace.
  • Ref: Phil 4:4-9
Our Discussion is summarized in the mind-map:

Questions for Reflections and Sample Answers:

What to Say to an Unbeliever with a 2 year-old Leukemia Child?
A member brought up a sad and challenging story of a friend (not a Christian yet) with a child suffering from cancer. Could we share that God will heal her child if she receives Jesus as Savior? After some discussion, it is suggested that sharing the 'truth' is more important than 'baiting'. It is lot more important to know the truth of Christ's suffering and salvation, reveal the love of God, and to entrust the mother and child into the hands of the loving God. Let's God's love and his Spirit minister to the them, that they, and especially the mother, has the strength and peace to care for her child. We can still pray for a miracle to happen to the child. But it is more important that the eternal destination is ensured. Let discern God's will together; praying and caring together and commit all to God and trust that no matter what, God know and work out best for all.

Lim Liat (c) 10 May 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Does All Paths lead to the Same God? Learning from Michael Ramsden

All paths lead to God may seems a humble and inclusive idea. But such incidence as truth makes one as  the know all God. On closer examination, all religions on the surface appear to be same, 'make people good', but in details, they exclude the ideas of one another. If one digs deeper into the content of Christianity, one will find that Christ died for all. He teaches us to forgive and love our enemy. He reached out to the outcast and sinners. Christianity is very inclusive. Most religions are about man having the right thinking, experience/feeling and doing to gain salvation. Christianity is unique in that the Gospel is not about making bad man good but about making dead man alive, through Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected. Once we receive Jesus Christ to get a rebirth into a New Life in Christ. Reducing Christianity into a set ideas or feelings or behavior lifestyles as the criteria for salvation is distortion of the Gospel. But right behavior should come after one is saved by the grace and Holy Spirit of God.
The group discuss on the sermon by Michael Ramsden on "ONE GOD MANY PATHS" which can be found at the following url's:


The Discussion:

Other Key Points:
  • The claim that "There is no absolute and everything is relative" is itself an absolute claim.
  • Judge not of Mat 7:1 is not about not judging but about making a right judgement.
    see Christianity Rediscovered: Judging Rightly
  • 'Touch not God's Anointed' is a distortion of God's words used as threats by Church Leaders to shut-off opinions, advices, and criticisms against the leaders and to enforce submission. In the original context, it is about not to kill God's appointed leader or at least not to usurp God's appointed leader. It does not mean that the leaders are not mistakes free and cannot be corrected. In fact, the members has the responsibility to ensure their leaders not fall into sins. See Reflections from CHC Kong Hee Alleged Misuse of Funds.
Questions for Reflections and Some Partial Answers

Lim Liat (c) 27 Apr 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Priority of Life - Relating to God and Handling of Wealth According to the Wisest

The Prosperity Gospel preacher or followers should read this. Never try to make God our means for prosperity. Wealth itself is temporary and not trustworthy. Relate to God well with respect and obedience, repenting from evil and never try to manipulate God with our empty promises.
In Ecclesiastes 5, the wisest man, King Solomon, first began with how we should relate to God and then address the issue of wealth. God or Wealth is the typical struggle that man has. Solomon pointed out the problems of wealth, the corruption and evil caused, never-enough greed, worry of lost, lost it when you need it, and yet still not able to buy peace, health nor stop sufferings, and we are not able to bring them into our death. So he concluded that it is still best to appreciate and enjoy the goodness that God has given us in this short life.

Here is the mind-map for the study of Ecclesiastes 5:

  The take away is simple:

  1. Give thanks to God for the life, no matter how short, and joy that we are able to enjoy the fruits of our labor and the blessing of riches.
  2. We are not to trust wealth to give us satisfaction. It does not. Accumulating more will just cause us to want for more.  We will worry more about loosing it. It is not even permanent and just when we need it, it may have lost it all! It is the cause of much injustice and oppression. It does not buy peace, health, or even prevent sufferings and affliction.
  3. The best is still to acknowledge God and relate to Him well. We are to be sincere, respectful, attentive with listening and obedience, repent from any evil, and try not to manipulate God with our promises that we may not keep.
For posts on Prosperity Gospel, see:

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Meaning of Life from the Wisest, Richest and Most Powerful King

Learn the meaning of life from someone with the credentials to discuss it. He was the wisest, richest and most powerful. Find out for yourself the true meaning of life and your life calling especially now if you are young. Live life well to the fullest extend and regret not at the ending when it may be too late.
This is a Bible Study base on Ecclesiastes Chapter one to four. The author, called himself a preacher, can be easily identified as King Solomon, the wisest, richest and most powerful King at that time. This was his reflection of life after living through his great research study, large scale experiments and projects, and his enjoyment to the highest order. He had 700 official wives and 300 concubines (1King 11:1-3), likely the most beautiful women from many foreign countries. He was the king that built the temple of God. After all that, he said life is nothing but vanity. Why was that so? What is the true meaning of life?

Hence, I think it is the best book to read, especially for the youth, when life is just starting and they need to be sure of what to go for in life before it is over. Nevertheless, it is also suitable for anyone, with or without religion of any kind to read. Perhaps, it could be printed as an independent book, so that more people can read it.

When I first read it, I thought I was reading a Buddhist, Taoist or even an Atheist book. I have to check several times on the book cover to confirm that I was in fact reading the Bible.

Look at how it starts, chapter 1 verse 2:
  • [RSV] " Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. "
Or in some other translation:
  • [NLB] “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
  • [NCV] The Teacher says, “Useless! Useless! Completely useless! Everything is useless.”
All is meaningless, emptiness, uselessness, vapor or breath shall be the conclusion if we only put our ourselves as the center and our life is just this earthly one of 70-120 years. All our pursuit, enjoyment, accumulations of wealth, wisdom and whatever will be left here when our life here is over. Empty handed we come and empty handed we leave. The world, the universe goes on in cycle with or without us.

However, if we can take a viewpoint that is higher, the Creator's view and a viewpoint that life is longer than this life (there is life after death), then we can see that natural ecosystem world is a wonderful creation that is filled with activities of beauty over the seasons that last forever. It is well designed and built. The journey of life is this world is connected and continued unto the life after death, to other people and generations after us and we are accountable to God eventually.

'Death is a great equalizer' as people say. But it is not very good news, as it equalizes all to zero, nothingness or emptiness.

'Death is the greatest invention of life', said Steve Jobs. It tells us clearly the priorities of things in our life.

But what difference does it make if our life is only this earthly one. We will not be aware of the great legacy, if any, that we left behind.

Life now on earth is only meaningful if our life can continue on after this one. Solomon, due to his Jewish religion background, said that, indeed, there is life after this one. In fact, there is a God that will hold us accountable to the life that we live here. But, this God is not the joy-killer God that we tend to think of, but rather a God that wants us to live this life richly to the full. John Piper said that "God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him".
11:9 Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. NLV.
12:1 Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old...
Let's start then for a study in greater detail ....

The Details of Chapter 1 to 4
The following mind map captures the details of chapter 1 to 4.  The vanity issue is covered in greater depth in the following mind-map. Study this overview well first.
The Vanities Explained

Questions for Reflection:
  1. What is the conclusion that King Solomon draw after his extensive study and experience of life in this world?
  2. What are the reasons he gives for such a claim? List his experience and reasons.
  3. What did King Solomon say about God and in particular about God and man?
  4. With such a God, do you agree with Solomon's conclusions about life? What do you think life is about?
  5. Is there still a need for wisdom, co-operation when all is futility? Explain.
  6. What about the unfairness in this world? Should you do or ignore it?
  7. What do you know about the meaning and your calling of life from God? The calling contains multiple factors & roles over time.
  8. Review the factors of futility and see if you need to spend more or less time on effort on such pursuits in the light of your calling?
Some sample answers for your consideration:

For a longer exposition on Ecc 3:1-8, see Adding Biblical Wisdom to Bill & Steve Jobs' Wisdom for Success.

Lim Liat (c) 15 April 2013

Related Posts:

Friday, April 12, 2013

The True Church Community - Learning from Tim Keller

The True Church is a community of believers built on the love of God through Jesus Christ to spur and support one another to grow into maturity of Christ-likeness. Deviation from this basic objective of building up one another into empire building at the expense of the members of the community has caused many to leave the church organization. Yet, wanting to be spiritual without a community of love and support has cause many to shipwreck their faith. Here is how the Church Community should be..."inviting people into the community of Jesus and helping one another to grow into 'little' Christ." This is living out the true Gospel.
The group has a discussion based on Tim Keller's "Hope for the Church" sermon. First, it is good to study the bible reference of Heb 10:19-25 ourselves. Here is a mind-map for the verses.

The Summary of the Sermon:
Questions for Reflections

Please also read about Spiritual Gifts, Grace & Ministry - Learning from ... to discover your gifting to serve better in the community.

Lim Liat (C) 12 April 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

An In-depth View of The Lord's Prayer - Learning from Tim Keller

This post on the Lord's Prayer is condensed from some of Tim Keller's sermons on this topic, especially the one on ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’. The KEY is to Hallowed the Lord. Putting God as the supreme and highest. If we put any other things as 'god', we will get a distorted view of life and get ourselves into all kinds of problems. How do we know what is truly our God? It is how we spend our time in solitude or in secret. What do we think of most? What we spent the most time on? What do we get extremely worry when that thing is at risk? That thing is our god. We need to adore God first before our petitions for our needs and before our confessions for our sins. Truly adoring God and spending time consistently with God will put life into proper perspective and keep us at peace despite the challenges of life. We next look at the Lord's prayer as the template for praying. We applied it to pray for any of our needs.

The Outline & Some Key Points

The outline and some key points on prayer are given in the mind-map below.

What to Pray - The 8 Points of the Lord's Prayer Template:
  1. God as Father
    We approach God purely on the basis of  relationship, as Father and Child.
    Without this relationship estabished through Jesus Christ, God does not have to answer us.
    With God as our heavenly father, we know God will provide and care for us. God will also guide and if need be, discipline us for our growth into maturity and Christ-likeness.
  2. Begin with Praise - Hallowed be Thy Name
    Our response to God as our heavenly Father should be one that put God first and utmost in our life. Nothing should take the supreme place of Father God in our life. When we don't consistently pray to God, we know God is not truly our top most priority. We can also tell by asking ourselves what we do in our secret and solitude, the thing that we think of most, the thing that we spend most time on, the thing that cause us to worry if we ever loose it. Adoration of God should come before our needs and our confessions of sins. Adoration of God in fact enables us to make light of our petitions and confessions because of our trust in His love and ability.
  3. His Will be Done
    With God as our foremost concern, it should be His will that we want to surrender our lives to. We want to internalize God's will as our own will. We want His kingdom and His will be done on this earth. We want His desire to be our desires. This should be the attitude and right thinking for Ps 37:4-5 and Proverb 3:5-6.
  4. Give Us our Daily Needs
    When God gives us the command to accomplish His will, He will also provide the resources and ability for us to do His will. His 'bread', the Word, the Empowerment, our physical needs will be provided by Him. We will also need to renew this food and power daily like recharging a battery that is used up daily.
  5. Forgive as We Forgive Others
    In the doing of His will and plan for our lives, we may make mistake and take a detour. We need to recouncil to our Father God when we disobey Him that our relationship with Him may be sweet and trustworthy. It is also common that others may fail us or even do evil to us. As God as forgiven us, we should forgive others. Without forgiving others, we could not have felt the true peace that come from His forgiveness for us.
  6. Not fall into Temptation
    There are the devils working through others that lay traps to catch us. May the Lord give us with wisdom to detect those traps and temptation and enable us to overcome them.
  7. Protection from Evil
    Father God will also protect us from the evils that are set against us. Read Ps 91.
  8. End with Praise to God
    Knowing that our requests will be answered, we can only end with thanks giving praises to Father  God.

Questions for Reflections:

Lim Liat (C) 24 March 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Prosperity Gospel 2 - Group Members' Contributions

Group members shares their views and experience about the Prosperity Gospel heard in our last meeting. Some raise further questions for our reflections and learning. These are summarized in the mind-maps below. The discussion is free flowing and members expressed out of their hearts and we shall have the real answers rather than the pet answers.
Our Views on the Prosperity Gospel, God's Will for Believers.

God's Ideal Will for Man

The Realities and The Purpose of Pains and Sorrows in the Journey of Life
Lim Liat (C) 9 March 2013

See also Prosperity Gospel - Learning from GLCC Dr Paul Choo.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Prosperity Gospel - Learning from GLCC Dr Paul Choo's Sermon

What is the Prosperity Gospel? What are their claims, behavior and supporting biblical verses? Most importantly, are they right? What is the true gospel? What should be believers' attitudes towards wealth and health? Base on the sermon by Dr Paul Choo we can learn, reflect and draw our conclusions. As Chinese, we also look up the teaching of Ancient Chinese Classics. We find the key concept is "Righteousness" and "Wealth" and the key first is Mat 6:33. Put God's righteousness first and wealth will come as the by-products. We then use the wealth to promote more righteousness. Then we shall be master over wealth and not be enslaved by wealth.

It is just nice that during this period of Chinese New Year where the main wish used is "恭喜发财" "Wishing you a Prosperous and Happy New Year", we have a discussion on the "Prosperity Gospel".  first hear the sermon by GLCC's Dr Paul Choo on this subject. It is available at Youtube-Click here.

I will use the question and answer format to recap the sermon and add in our own thoughts.

1 What is Prosperity Gospel? 
  • Give to Get More for Yourself, in particular  wealth & health.
  • Ah Long(Money Lender) O$P$ - Owed Money pay Money 
  • Prosperity Gospel: P$G$$$$$$$$$$$$.... Pay Money Get Money... Money 
  • God becomes the slave to your desires 
  • Do you find that in most Church Fund Raising Program also uses such similar preaching ?
2 What are the key verses of their belief? 
  1. Mal 3:8-10 : Tithe and heaven will be opened to pour down great blessings on You
    • Mal 3:8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How have we robbed you?' In your tithes and contributions. 
    • Mal 3:9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 
    • Mal 3:10  Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. 
    • And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need
  2. 2 Cor 9:6: Give More to Get More 
    1. 2Co 9:6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 
  3. Mat 13:8 Parable of the Sower: Sow Seed Money to get 100 folds return 
      • 30, 60, 100 folds returns
      • for seeds planted in good ground 
  4. 3John1:2 :Believers should have all wealth & health 
    • 3Jn 1:2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 
3 What do those verses really mean?
  1. Mal 3:8-10 Must support God's house – Tithe and Trust God to provide for your needs. 
  2. 2 Cor 9:6 Context: Taking a group offerings for the poor christian elsewhere . Don't be afraid to help others; God will supply your needs. 
    • give little get little 
    • Not for you to give and then buy car and houses 
    • not to have more things 
  3. Mat 13:8 Parable of the Sower - Words not Money
    • sowing of words that result in victory & success in life 
    • not sowing of seed money.
    • freely share the Words of God that many people got saved 
    • God has ways for multiplying His words 
  4. 3John1:2 Greetings ... well wishes only. 
    1. Not a promise.
    2. It is from John to Gaius and not you. 
4 Could we generalized from the specific? When can or cannot?
  1. Are there other verses elsewhere in the Bible that teach the same thing. 
  2. Tithe- Mal 3:10.
    1. Proverbs 3:9 Honor the LORD with your wealth & with the firstfruits of all your produce; (10) then your barns will be filled with plenty, & your vats will be bursting with wine. 
  3. 3John 1:2 
    1. Blessings of Wealth & Health as your soul prosper( Godliness) 
    2. this matches with Mat 6:33 - Spirit first then Wealth & Health 
    3. see also Proverb 3.
5 What are their typical practices? 
  1. Dress Well to show success 
  2. Music 
    • Charge Up 
    • dumb idea: music is neutral; only the lyrics count 
    • Truth: music is the language of the souls 
  3. Testimonies 
    • Before Offering ... Give Give Give 
    • Testimony of Giving to Great Success from poverty 
  4. After Offering Sermon
    • ... feel good message 
    • God is great 
    • God owns everything 
    • God want you to be rich 
    • Why do you want to come by bus? 
      • No faith; no blessing. 
      • No giving no blessings 
    • Seed faith ... 30, 60, 100 times 
  5. Word of Faith - Positive Confessions 
    • Visualisation - Fourth Dimension 
    • Have Faith 
      • No result = lack faith ; Need to have more faith
      • if not making money, then you should give more!
      • If bankrupt, then leave church 
    • God must give to you because you exercise faith 
      • Who is the master? God or you?
    • If recession come, people go church more and give more 
    • if you give the church, pastor takes all and let God give you all 
      • the richer the pastor become, it is his faith and blessings of God. No one should complain.
  6. Get rid of people that does not agree with the doctrines. 
    1. Self Filtering Selective Club 
6 Why people like to attend such prosperity gospel church?
  • the seemingly sure and hopeful way to get rich 
  • if it doesn't work, it means you have no faith .... failure proof 
7 If Prosperity Gospel is wrong, does that mean that Christians should be poor and not rich? 

The blessings of God are health, long-life, richness not just for ourselves but for sharing with others.
But the foundation must be on righteousness and godliness. Wealth & Health are by-products.
  • 1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 
  • 1Ti 4:8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 
for a detailed study on Proverb 3 see The True Gospels of Blessings including Prosperity using 5WH2.

8 What should be the right understanding of a believers towards wealth and health?
What does the Chinese Classics teach us?
As Chinese, it is good to have a look at the teachings of the Ancient Classics Book and saying of the Sages for our reference. You can see that the teaching is same as the Bible. We shall use the teaching of PRC most famous Sinology and Chinese Management Master Zhai Hong Sheng. More of his teachings can be found at Learning from Sinology Master Zhai HongSheng 1 Success FormulaLearning from Sinology Master Zhai HongSheng 2 The Dao of Business.

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
                       and all these things shall be added unto you.
  1. Seek Righteousness first and it brings wealth …and then… 
  2. Use your wealth to promote righteousness
Lim Liat (c) 23 Feb 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Spiritual Gifts, Grace & Ministry - Learning from Tim Keller

Building a Community of Ministers and not Consumers. Begin with laying the foundation for Godliness, emphasize on character building, spiritual fruit and grace. Follow with discovery, use and development of gifts, with 3 main groups of Prophet, Priest & King. Discovery of Gifts by Gift-test (not recommended) but by 3-Steps of   1. Affinity: the needs you resonate to.   2. Abilities: the abilities and roles you have.   3. Opportunities: the community of leaders, friends, guidance and endorsement. Danger of serving with our gifts without the grace and using the outcomes of our ministry to earn God's favor or self justification. Tell-tale signs of stress, insecurity, jealousy, condemning, critical, hypocrisy. Godliness is for long term effectiveness and able to compensate for our weaknesses. Serving and our Calling in the unique matching gifts-group, venues, level of abilities, seasons of life. 

The Friday Study Group members have decided take a break from the usual way of studying Bible Book by Book and do a topical study from good sermons. We start with one of the great preachers of present time,  Tim Keller. Time Keller's sermons and articles are available widely in the internet and many free sermons are available in his Redeemer's website.  We start with this one Spiritual Gifts and Graces.

The key points are summarized in the abstract. The details are shown in the mind-maps below.
Please be aware that the maps show our learning from hearing the sermons with our own added comments and views. It is recommended that you listen to the original sermon first and may be compare notes with us.

The warning given to us that we should serve with our gifts driven by grace. Always start and end with grace with gifts being tools to do a better job. We serve out of our acceptance and the grace of Christ in us to meet the needs and build up the community of Christ.

Hope it is helpful for you to find your ministry in the community where you are serving. Please share with us your personal experience too.

A Quick Summary (5 Mar 16)

Finding your gifts and ministry:

1. 3 Types of Gift Groups: Prophets, Kings and Priests
  • Prophets - vision, intelligence, strategies, big picture.
  • Kings - management, organization, execution.
  • Priests - charity, care, counselling, ... the heart and people oriented. Above two groups cover the mind and are tasks oriented.
2. Finding your Ministry: Affinity, Ability and Opportunity

3. Above all, your character is a lot more important that your gifts.
Godly character can compensate for your lack your gifts.
Gifts without character becomes a dangerous instruments for sins.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bible Study Daniel 12 The End Times

We have come to last chapter of Daniel and the end times of the history of mankind. It was sealed to Daniel but it is opened and is very obvious to us. In this book, we also see the influence of spiritual forces behind the natural. We see the brevity of our lives and even of the total history of mankind. We see the insignificance of great kings or tyrants. God is sovereign above and over all. Yet God came to save us, the dusts of earth. The wicked will not understand and continue in their denial of God but the wise understand and purify themselves. Be wise, know God and live rightly as the time is short.
Chapter 12 is a very short chapter. But it is the conclusion of the history of mankind. We want to know what happen in the end. It is very important then to the meaning and the future of our lives. There are many things we can learn from this chapter and from the book of Daniel. We should spend much time reflecting on this.

Here is mind-map :

A related passage on Judgment of Nations is given Mat 25 See:

Here is the questions for reflections:

Here are additional lessons for me:

1. It is a Dual World of Spiritual and Natural.
The happenings in our natural world are influenced by the happenings in the spiritual worlds.  Dan 12v1. See Kingdom Principles Discussion 04 The Dual Worlds

2. It was sealed to Daniel but opened up to us.
While Daniel did not fully understand and was told to seal up the book until the end, but it is opened to us. We know about the empires of Babylonian, Persian, Greek - Alexander & division into fours, Romans, EU and the rise of technology with increase flow of knowledge and travels. Our clear understanding of Daniel shows that we are at the end times and we are just waiting for the last few signs.

3. There is a Time of Judgment to Hold Man Accountable for His Works.
Dan 12:2,3,10 and Mat 25:31-45.
Like us be wise and know God and live rightly as the time is short.

4. God is Sovereign & The Brevity of Human Life and Nations
Read Isa 40. If not, the following:

[Brevity of Life]
Isa 40:6  ... All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
Isa 40:7  The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass.
Isa 40:8  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isa 40:10  Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
[Nations as Nothing]
Isa 40:17  All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
[God the Creator]
Isa 40:22  It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
[What are the Great Men?]
Isa 40:23  who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
Isa 40:24  Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
[Those that Worship God are Have 'Eteranl Life']
Isa 40:31  but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Lim Liat (C) 13 Jan 2013