Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

07/16/17 Sermon - Principles of Investment 101

“Principles of Investment 101”

Ecclesiastes 11


While in seminary I took a class on Wisdom Literature, which consisted of an in-depth study of Job, Psalms Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. My final paper was on proverbs of today found in the movies. How many of us have statements we live by that we heard in our favorite movie. “Here’s looking at you kid.” or “There’s no place like home.” or  maybe, “Love means never having to say your sorry.” Thanks to media, such as television and internet, today’s generation is probably the first generation who has gained its proverbs for living from movies and television shows instead of our grandparents. Previous generations grew up hearing wise sayings told by their parents and grandparents. Previous generations sat around the table after dinner and listened to the radio instead of turning on the television set. There was more time to listen to family stories and be told a moral or two that would come from them.

Proverbs are based on experience and work best in situations where change is non-existent or gradual. Today, change happens within hours. Proverbial sayings one may live by have changed as well. You may find it in a movie, such as “Make my day!” or on a bumper sticker, “There is no Planet B” or on locker room walls, “When the game gets tough, the tough get going.”


Proverbs or wise sayings, whether found through media or by visiting one’s grandparents, capture the lessons of experience and attempt to bring order to the chaos we call “life.” Just when life seems to have little meaning or semblance, a proverb may be the very thing that helps us cope.


We are coming to the end of Solomon’s book of wise sayings entitled “Ecclesiastes.” Solomon has some closing words of advice for us in chapter 11. In verses 1-8 he provides four investing principles which can be used whether one is investing financially and/or personally.

These four principles are:

#1 Diversity

#2 Observation

#3 Diligence

#4 Celebration


By utilizing these four principles Solomon suggests that we will be able to use our wisdom in such a way that we are able to take the joy life has to offer and not be overcome by the reality that our days of joy are limited by the certainty of death.


The first principle of diversity is found in verses 1 and 2. Solomon had learned that the best way to get the highest return from his investment was to invest overseas. He realized that by importing and exporting through busy ports on the Mediterranean such as Tyre and Sidon, he was bound to make more money. Verse two reminds us that Solomon lived with the understanding that everything was meaningless and that one could not count on anything to be risk free.

So he follows his overseas investment advice by urging his students to be sure to diversify their investments, or as my grandfather would have said, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”


For Solomon, it made sense to spread out his investments. Who knew whether the crop would fail? Or when a ship would be seized by pirates? The best insurance was to make sure he spread out his investments so that if one or two failed, he wouldn’t be wiped out.


Along with diversifying his investments, Solomon stressed the need to keep your eyes on what was happening. Prosperity takes work. Constant vigilance. Investments in Solomon’s day mainly had to do with crops. And the prosperity of crops had to do with the weather. In verses 3-4, Solomon tells us to learn to watch the weather. He understands that humans cannot change process of the weather,

at least they couldn’t before global warming, so the best one could do was keep their eyes on what was happening in order to minimize the chances of harvesting at the wrong time. In the semi-desert environment where Solomon lived, not paying attention to the type of wind or the chance of rain, could mean the difference of harvesting to soon or too late and missing the peak of harvest.


In verses 5-6, Solomon warns his students that even though he has just instructed them to pay attention and be observant, they are not to become cocky and think they have figured everything out. Because just when humans think that know what will happen, God will throw in a curve ball and prove just how much they don’t know. God’s ways are mysterious and humans are not able to comprehend them, no matter how much they try. The patterns in nature exist, but Solomon warned his students, that in essence, they do not know what God knows.

God’s ways are as mysterious as the source or the direction of the wind and the creation of a child in the womb.


Solomon had come to the realization that humans were to leave the mysteries up to God and to use their energies more wisely by focusing on the things they could control. In verse 6, Solomon reveals that even though humans do not have control of everything, there are things they do have control, namely… their efforts. Given the option of despair because the mysteries of life take over, Solomon recommends the option of being industrious and keeping to task what each day brings. In other words, seeking what God has put before you for the day and doing it. Leaving the results up to Him.


And finally, Solomon reminds his students that just as they are to work hard, they are also to rejoice hard. Solomon puts forth the road to joy,

note, not the road to happiness.

Joy comes when you are at peace with

who you are,

why you are and

how you are,

whereas,

happiness has more to do with external triggers and is based on other

people,

things,

places,

thoughts and

events.

Solomon writes that if  you are able to experience another day, then you should find the beauty in it, because Solomon understood that you may not get to see another day. Find joy in the moment, “Carpe diem,” “Seize the day.” Count your blessings, because Solomon was keenly aware that the “days of darkness” exist and one’s life could be gone tomorrow.


This chapter concludes with Solomon giving direct counsel to the young. Alongside his encouragement to enjoy life now, they are to remember that God is judging how well one celebrates the gifts God has given them. He reminds us that childhood and youth are vanity, which in this context means “fleeting” or “brief”.


Just this week this reality hit me hard. I drove to Chop Point Camp on Friday morning to pick up Emily and her friend Caeli and bring them to the house, only to put them back in the car and drive them to the Portland Jetport later that day so they could fly to San Diego. As I was walking back to the car in the parking garage at the airport, all of the time spent with Lydia and Emily as babies and children flashed through my mind.

Zoom! Gone!

Never to be experienced again.

What happened?

It seemed like it was just yesterday!

I wanted it back, but I knew it was impossible. And eventually I realized that I had chosen well. I had spent my motherhood, at home, investing in my children. I have wonderful and miserable memories of events over the past nineteen years that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and no one can take them away. I celebrate my time spent with my children and plan to rejoice each additional day I may have in the future. As each day assures me I am getting older, I can relate more and more to Solomon’s stressing the importance of youth making the most of their youthful years. When you are young, you are more fit and you are not encumbered with adult responsibilities. Therefore, the young are free to “walk in the ways of their hearts” and to consider the time of childhood a time of  life without hassles, and less anxiety so that joy comes more naturally. Solomon encouraged the young to take their fill of life, by doing the best at what they do, in love and utilizing the gifts God had given them.


The New Testament finds Jesus teaching the same thing. In our children’s message this morning we were reminded of the parable Jesus told of the talents.

Jesus’ words have a harsh reality to them,


Matthew 25:27-29New International Version (NIV)

27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

 

The reality is, the abilities, goods, wealth, poverty, opportunities, everything that encompasses our lives are divine gifts. We are to be stewards of them.  And one of the things Jesus will do when He returns is to judge us on how well we have done so.

For those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we are promised entrance into heaven and we will not be judged for our sins. However, once in heaven, we will stand before the judgement seat of Christ and as it states in 2 Corinthians 5:10

“so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  


Solomon had it right, however, Solomon didn’t know “the rest of the story.” He did not know that the event we would be working towards was the second coming of Christ that being industrious and keeping to task what each day brings and using the gifts and talent God had given to make the best of each day, and to seize each day, would be evaluated and we would be given awards in accordance to how we’ve done.


Recognize, this judgement is not one in regards to our sins. By grace we have been saved, from our sins. Hell is not an option for those who are saved.

However, as we read in Matthew, while in the presence of God for eternity, Jesus will be asking us about our investments. What we have done with the gift of life He gave us while here on earth. I don’t want you to even begin to think I have my mind wrapped around this event. It is a mystery to the Biblical scholars, and the details are mysterious to me. However, the New Testament coincides with the Old Testament. Solomon’s wise sayings of sound investments make sense today, especially for those of us who are Christians. Part of our commitment to Jesus Christ is to:


Invest that which God has given us in those things that

will bring about good.

We are also called to rejoice in God’s good gifts and in God’ provision.

But ultimately we are called to rejoice in God’s victory. Solomon lamented the day of death, but for Christians we are promised the finest banquet and a feast that will surpass anything we can imagine.

And the guest of honor will be none other than the Bridegroom, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Solomon realized the need to rejoice, Jesus gives us assurance that we can rejoice, in the hope that is yet to come.


The four principles Solomon put forth encourage us to be wise investors. Solomon also encourages us to be enjoyers of the life God has given us. May we be grateful ones. Jesus takes us one step further. He encourages us to be not only investors and enjoyers, but also lovers. We are to love God’s children and serve our neighbor’s needs. We could get all wrapped up in whether or  not we have invested well, whether we are using the gifts God has given us, and whether we will receive a reward, but I suspect that if we follow Jesus’ example and His commandment, “that we love one another, as he has loved us” John 15:12, we are on the correct path. Where love is at work, we can be sure, that “love never fails” 1 Corinthians 13:8.

Let’s pray.