Vineyard Life Journal

An online forum for our church family to connect around our 2012 daily Bible reading plan using the S.O.A.P. method.

Day 157

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Welcome to Day 157 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2; Ecclesiastes 3; Psalm 45; Ephesians 2 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Ecclesiastes 1:1, ““Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless!”

v 18, “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

Ecclesiastes 2:4, “I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees… v 11, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” v 17,

“So I hated life…”

Ecclesiastes 3:13, “That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”

Psalm 45:17, “I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.”

Ephesians 2:4, “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

O bservation

Two amazing passages today! Ecclesiastes 1-3 display Solomon’s downward spiral of hopelessness. Ephesians 2, one of the greatest passages in the whole Bible speaks to God making us alive in Christ! The complete antithesis of Ecclesiastes.

A pplication

Keep your eye on the prize.

If we don’t do that, life can end up “meaningless.”

I can lead worship… feed the hungry… any number of good things, but in the end, if I have taken my eyes off of Christ, it’s all meaningless. Good works.

Ephesians 2:10 states that we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

Good works are good. But…

I don’t lead worship to entertain or to draw a crowd. I lead worship to connect people with their Maker. The One who loves them and created them for a purpose. I lead worship simply because He is worthy.

I don’t feed the hungry simply to meet a human need. Even though Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,” and that there is reward for such activity. I do it to build relationship. To gain trust. To extend God’s kingdom. To open the door to pray for people. To introduce them to Christ.

This may be my favorite ministry pic ever. Jim and Linda Clayton praying for a man after he received groceries from us.

Otherwise, it’s just good works.

Good works are good. Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of great organizations doing great work.

But ours is a greater purpose.

It involves eternity.

Solomon said himself, “He [God] has also set eternity in the human heart.” Eternity has a purpose beyond just doing good works. Perhaps that is the purpose of good works.

Please don’t misunderstand… I’m not saying our church is better than any other organization out there doing good things.

What I am saying is the church has a higher calling than social justice. Churches should provide more than just “music and a message.” More than a social club, or a Bible study.

The church is (or should be) the greatest force on the planet.

Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

I often hear people say, “I don’t like organized religion.” (To which I like to reply, “Oh, you prefer disorganized religion?” ; )

I know what they’re saying… “Church” is often not fun, click-ish, often times hurtful.”

But it’s still the means by which God chooses to reach people. It’s what Jesus died for… a bride “without spot or wrinkle.”

I think what people are really saying is church (in their experience) can be irrelevant, pointless, disconnected from society, out of touch, mean-spirited. Not fun.

No one likes a bony finger pointed in judgment toward them.

But I believe people respond to love. I’m not talking about “kum ba yah” warm and fuzzy love. But real love. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Purpose.


I have experienced D. All of the above. The good, the bad and the ugly.

And hurt goes both ways. People say mean things and walk out the door, never to be heard from again.

One of my favorites was, “Doug and Scott… they do the best they can.”

I’ll take that as a compliment.

When we stand before the Lord, He doesn’t say, “Hey, great job! You guys were perfect! Nice job gathering 2,000 people! You did everything perfectly!

He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Good and faithful is the target.

We tried to be faithful with our small group of a dozen. And we’ve only tried to be faithful to what the Lord is calling us to every step along the way. Through all the ups and downs. Through the good, the bad and the ugly. Through all the growth and change along the way.

He presents to himself his bride “without spot or wrinkle.” (Hallelujah!)

We know we’re not perfect. We know “pretty good” isn’t good enough.

But it’s not what we know. It’s who we know.

The eternal One.

P rayer

Thank you Lord for your church. That we are all part of your body! That you have called each one of us according to your purpose in Christ Jesus. That you have prepared good works in advance for each one of us!


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3 thoughts on “Day 157

  1. Mark Long on said:

    Today’s reading hits me right where I’m at in life. I feel like I’ve been in a season of change for a few years now and am looking forward to what God has in store for me. So much of what I do now in a worldly sense does feel meaningless. A book called “Halftime” by Bob Buford puts it this way:

    “Halftime is a pause in midlife to reflect on who we are, what we have to work with, what has gone well and not so well in the first half, and then to make eye contact with God and get our unique assignment for the second half and go do it with everything we have.”

    Lord, help me to persevere through this time that seems meaningless. I know you have a greater purpose for me and I’m trying to use this time to come closer to you. Light my path and help show me the way. Help me to be faithful.

  2. Nathan Malone on said:

    This is phenomenal! A personal mission statement wrapped in a devotional. I think this is what God desires out of each one of us. Our purpose to be birthed out of relationship and revelation with Him, not from a well thought out plan. I also realize that meaninglessness (kind of a word?!) is a wonderful indication of our need to connect with God on a deeper level. When things start losing their meaning in my life, it may mean that God has lost His meaning in my life and refocusing on Him can fix both problems.

  3. Sometimes I can relate very well to Ecclesiastes. We go to work day after day and punch the time clock then pay our bills after taxes are taken out of our checks. We clean the house and dust and dirt just reappear out of nowhere. I’m convinced that I could vacuum with our Dyson “Super Sucker” continuously and it will still find dirt. Where does it all come from?!!! Americans are relying more on debt these days and it seems that we are heading for a major crash. Why bother… Meaningless! Chasing the wind!!!

    Or is it…

    Paying bills isn’t meaningless if we are providing a roof over our head, food on the table, and a future for our children. I learned the hard way that running up credit card debt for things that I want (which lose value long before paid off) is totally meaningless. We have been cleaning our house to host a baby shower for some good friends this weekend. I know it will be dirty again afterwards, but how meaningful is it to help welcome a new baby into the world.

    It is only meaningless if we are chasing the wind. Instead, we should be chasing God. It is only meaningless with earthly thinking. With a kingdom mindset, everything becomes meaningful.

    Lord, I want to have your eyes for brief moments every now and then. Our work is not what brings us salvation. Only your love does that. It does bring your kingdom closer to others. Let us spread your kingdom, not for our glory, but for yours.

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