Volume. XXVII, No. 21
Sunday, 18 November 2012


Vanity of Worldliness


Webster dictionary defines “vanity” as “emptiness; want of substance to satisfy desire; fruitless desire or endeavour; trifling labor that produces no good; empty pleasure; vain pursuit.” Simply, it can be said that vanity is a concern for things that really are not that important. The dictionary definition of “worldly” is “relating to, or devoted to, the temporal world”. Thus worldliness is the condition of being concerned with world affairs and pre-occupation with the present world.

“……vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” (Eccl 1:2). These were the words of King Solomon about worldliness. If materialism was ever to satisfy anyone, it would have to be King Solomon. King Solomon was and still is considered to be one of the wisest men and the richest king who ever lived. Kings and Queens of his day came to him to hear him and learn of his wisdom. King Solomon was endowed with great wisdom and great wealth by God. In his early reign, he ruled over Israel with a God-fearing attitude. He sought after God’s will and he thirsted for wisdom. But as the days went by, he was very much influenced by worldliness. He accumulated enormous wealth from many nations. He trusted in the power of horses. He married the daughter of Pharaoh plus many other princesses from the surrounding nations. He drifted into idolatry As a result; his heart was not perfect before God. Gradually, he was influenced to worship other gods by his non-believing wives. King Solomon did all there is to enjoy “life” yet did not find happiness or satisfaction. He declared: “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Eccl 5: 10) After looking back over his life and all that he had accomplished, he lamented the vanity of worldliness and realised that the whole duty of man was to “….Fear God, and keep his commandments: …” (Eccl 12:13).

We, too, from childhood to old age, are very much influenced by materialism. Every day we see and hear commercial messages that continuingly bombard our eyes and ears. Advertising and consumer goods industries spend millions to tell us about all the latest products that we cannot be happy without. We have allowed society to dictate to us what we should have and not have. Are you a materialistic person? Do you look toward material and physical goods, such as money, luxury items, car, property etc. to make you feel happy? The illusion of seeking material possessions to be happy is a constant cycle. If these material possessions would supposedly make people happier, why do people have to continually get more of them to keep themselves happy? Our human nature will never be satisfied. No matter how much we see, hear or achieve, we are never content. There is always something else on the horizon for us to conquer. We constantly compare ourselves to others only to find that they too are comparing themselves to someone else.  We often think that if we are not a part of the group looking to achieve more, then somehow something is wrong with us. Materialism causes us to strive for more, and more, and more.

Material possessions and wealth are not condemned in the Bible. In Genesis 13:2,: “Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold” and  Job 42:10, “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” we see that God provided Abraham with great wealth and blessed Job with much material possessions. Ecclesiastes 5:19, “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.´ and 1 Timothy 6:17, “… in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” imply that wealth is seen as evidence of God’s blessing and without the blessing of God, whatever success and riches we seek are empty. But, the Bible does warn us that if God blesses us with wealth and worldly things, we must keep our priorities right and guard against the seductive effects of wealth and worldly things which often tempt us to forget about God. The Bible also tells us that “…for a man\'s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15) and that we are to “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; ..(Matt 6:33). If we set our hearts on earthly things, we will eventually be disappointed. But if we set our hearts on Christ and live for Him, we will find that He is faithful to provide for our every need.

About worldliness, Apostle John in 1 John 2:15-16 says: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.Here, John clearly stated that the love of the Father is not in the one who loves the world. John continued to explain about the things of this world and that they can be the source of temptations in three phases: “the lust of the flesh” where “lust” in this context does not refer to sexual lust but to strong desire and “flesh” does not refer to anything sexual or sensual, but to a mindset oriented toward the “self” and away from God;  “the lust of the eyes” which is the desire for anything beautiful or attractive that can be exalted in place of God; and “the pride of life” which is the selfish and arrogant display of things that may replace the desire for God. John further explained in Verse 17 that: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Here, John is saying that this world and all its appeals are passing away, but the believer who has made God the object of his existence will continue forever.

In 1Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Apostle Paul equated worldliness with spiritual immaturity and he addressed the believers in the church of Corinth in regard to their worldly behaviour. Though they were believers—they were spiritual babies who could not understand the wisdom of God. This lack of maturity led to their behaving as though they were still part of the unsaved world. Paul exhorted them to grow up and mature in the faith so they would cease from worldly behaviour. Furthermore in 1 Corinthians 3:18-19, Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”  “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” Paul portrayed worldliness as the opposite of godliness. The world’s wisdom is but foolishness and is based on worldly illusions. True wisdom comes not from man’s philosophies, but from God’s Word. As Christians, our choice is clear. To avoid worldliness, we must mature in the faith, growing up in all things in Christ so that we are no longer spiritual infants. Also we must come to know the difference between the wisdom of God and the foolishness of worldly wisdom, and that is only achieved by careful and diligent study of God’s Word.

Life is not about you and your success. It is not about the best life you can have now. Life at the core is about Jesus. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or power: all things were created by him, and for him:(Colossians 1:16). If you continue your life without making HIM the sole purpose of all that you do and every decision that you make, then, your whole life at best is VANITY. Therefore, let us run from the vanity of our life and may we say with Paul, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. (Philippians 1:21).

Dn Yaw Chiew Tan

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster: Today’s Team Leader: Bro Phil Surman. Next Lord’s Day:  Bro Raphael Ng

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm. 

*Serving the Lord in the Flower Roster for 2013 - There are only a few “vacant slots” to be filled.

*Combined Ebenezer-Hope Family Bible Camp Registration & Special Diet forms available on the notice board table. Early registration appreciated & with early bird discounts!

*YAF Beach Activity: please assemble at church at 7 pm before going to beach.

*Kitchen News: Please claim your plates, trays & foodstuffs from the wooden cupboard next to the fridge by 27 Jan.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee (Melb); Bros Raymond Ang (Adl/Pinnaroo), Houston Li (S’pore), Raphael Ng (Goolwa/Adl) & Richard Tee (Melb); Sisters Natalie Cheng (S’pore), Grace Gan’s parents (Adl), Rosalie Gan (Melb) & Peng Ha Yeo (M’East); Mr Lucas Lee (Melb); & others who have arrived safely.

2. Church Activities, including Session Meeting, in the past week.

3. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

4. Visitors & new worshippers.

 

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson (Nursing Home); Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bros Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (S’pore); Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth (Nursing Home), Margaret Hooper, Lai Kheng Chiong, Myung Ki, Irena Kurek-Braden (NSW), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), Susan Varadi (Nursing Home); Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); Mr Mang Soo Ong (Sis Gillian Ong’s father); Mr Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Dn Edwin’s mother in Mumbai) & Mrs Chuilin Yap (Malacca); Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Cambodia Missions - Bro Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh).

3. Ministry in New Life BPC (London): Ps & Sis Ki. Special Prayer: UK Visa application & return of their passports. Plans to minister in Korea & S’pore.

4. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.

5. God’s Comfort - Sis Sharon Ying & others in grief.

6. iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry & Ordination - Pr HS Lim  (Melbourne, Vic).

7. IBPFM (USA) - Rev Keith Coleman & Board members; missionaries in India & South America.

8. Ps & Sis Weng - Ministry in Hope BPC. 

9. Journey mercies: Ps David & Sis Susan Weng & family; Elder Michael D Lee (Adl); Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo/Adl), Houston Li (Adl) & Raphael Ng (Goolwa/Adl); Sisters Xandrea Cai (Adl), Gillian Ong (S’pore) & Peng Ha Yeo (Middle East); Mr Lucas Lee (Adl); & those who are travelling. 

10. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11. Full-time Job - Sisters Michelle Lee (Melb) & Corinne Teng; & others looking for  stable jobs.

12. Unity in doctrine & fellowship of all B-P Churches

13. Final weeks of pregnancy: Sis Josephine Wong

14. Health in pregnancy - Sis Kerrie Lam

15. Year 12 students - Sisters Nicole Chia, Kimberley Gan & Rachel Ting.

16. University students - preparation of assignments, thesis & end-of-year exams.

17. Believers under persecution in Islamic nations.

18. God’s guidance upon uni graduation & future work in S’pore: Sisters Heng Yee Cheah & Gillian Ong (currently in Bris).

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063