Thursday, June 7, 2012
Welcome to Day 158 of our Life Journal!
Click here for today’s reading: Ecclesiastes 4; Ecclesiastes 5; Ecclesiastes 6; Psalm 18; Ephesians 3 (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
Ecclesiastes 4, “Oppression, toil, friendlessness.” What a heading for a chapter of scripture. “Meaningless” seems to be Solomon’s favorite word. I’m not excited to read the book. It’s depressing! And yet, for the one who is attentive, there are some great verses and principles along the way! Like this one…
v 9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
… and this one…
Ecclesiastes 5:18, “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.”
Ecclesiastes 6:9, “Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite.”
Psalm 18:19, “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
v 29, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.”
Ephesians 3:17, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp
how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do
immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!”
The difference in tone of Ecclesiastes in comparison to Ephesians is huge. Ecclesiastes is so… hopeless. Yet Ephesians is so… hopeful!
Solomon, the son of King David wrote Ecclesiastes. The Apostle Paul wrote Ephesians. Solomon built the temple in the first seven years of his reign as king. Then spent the next 30+ years on an emotional and spiritual downhill slide. Paul however, spent the rest of his life (after his conversion) traveling as a missionary, encouraging churches.
Paul’s final statement was this, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
As opposed to Solomon’s final statement being, “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 12:8.
Often times when I read the Bible, and I have been (just like you) reading 4-5 chapters every day this year, I see the cautionary passages. I see men’s failings and I often say, “Note to self. Don’t do that.”
And I ask, “How did Solomon end up there??” He started so well. He really did! Remember when he sacrificed a thousand bulls?? Remember his prayer at the dedication of the temple?
2 Chronicles 6:41, ““Now arise, Lord God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may your faithful people rejoice in your goodness. 42 Lord God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant.”
Sounds like an altogether different person from who wrote Ecclesiastes, doesn’t it?
Seems Solomon somehow lost his way.
As opposed to Paul who proclaimed near the end of his life, (it bears repeating!) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Could it really be this simple?
Could it really be as simple as knowing one’s own sense of purpose? Knowing who they are and whose they are? Having vision for one’s life beyond just working and paying and living and dying? THAT is meaningless.
Wealth and power is meaningless without that sense of greater purpose. (Solomon, a king, lived in a palace he built… powerful, wealthy beyond imagination, a thousand wives, three hundred concubines, even built the temple…)
Without a grasp of “how wide and high and long and deep is the love of Christ,” I believe life could be considered meaningless.
It’s good to go to college, get a job and advance, meet someone and marry, raise a family. Serve the poor, give to charities, do good, make a difference.
But apart from Christ?
I really believe this… deep down in the core of my soul… IN Christ, is where we find meaning. Once we grasp his love for us, once we come to believe that he is “able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” we find hope. When one lives to see what Christ can do… wants to do… Once we are living beyond ourselves… Once we find our purpose in Him…
Life is no longer “a chasing after the wind.”
We find meaning. Purpose. Satisfaction…
… the few days of life God gives us.
Help me to never lose sight of your purpose for my life.