Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Value of Friends

Ecclesiastes 4:7-13
7 I observed yet another example of meaninglessness in our world. 8 This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, "Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?" It is all so meaningless and depressing.
9 Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. 11 And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

We depend too much on self. We believe we're the only one who can do a certain job and then we refuse to ask for help. We're afraid to allow others to take over task. We believe they are incapable of doing things to our standards. Why?

I see this as Satan's way of robbing us from the happiness and contentment God desires for us. We are so busy in the details that we don't look at the big picture. We need the support of others. Having this support allows us to see life in a different and proper perspective. Our values are different. We are able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Otherwise, we work in vain, for nothing. God wants us to focus on the important things, not the details.

My prayer for you today is you will see the value of friends.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Get Rich Quick

Ecclesiastes 4: 1-6
Again I observed all the oppression that takes place in our world. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and the victims are helpless. 2 So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living. 3 And most fortunate of all are those who were never born. For they have never seen all the evil that is done in our world.
4 Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind.
5 Foolish people refuse to work and almost starve. 6 They feel it is better to be lazy and barely survive than to work hard, especially when in the long run everything is so futile.

Boy, things are still the same. Even in Solomon's time the people were trying to get rich quick, and expend as litt effort as possible. Just goes to show that nothing ever changes. We always seem to want what we can't have. The brass ring is always just our of our grasp. When someone does grab that brass ring, we wonder, why couldn't it have been me? or it should have been me. We tend to be so caught up in 'me' we forget this world is nothing compared to the riches God stores in heaven for us. So why are we chasing the brass ring instead of relying on God's promises? Why do we insist on "chasing the wind?"

My prayer for you today is you will look to God to supply all your needs.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22
16 I also noticed that throughout the world there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! 17 I said to myself, "In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds."
18 Then I realized that God allows people to continue in their sinful ways so he can test them. That way, they can see for themselves that they are no better than animals. 19 For humans and animals both breathe the same air, and both die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! 20 Both go to the same place-the dust from which they came and to which they must return. 21 For who can prove that the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why they are here! No one will bring them back from death to enjoy life in the future.

These verses gave me a sarcastic smile. I thought of all the corruption that is everywhere in the legal system. From politicians on down. Nothing in thousands of years has changed. People will be rebellious and evil, it's our nature. Also, it's in our nature for us to die, but where we spend eternity is our choice. I choose heaven, and I also choose to be happy with my station in life. God has a plan for me.

I pray you will choose to be happy and have peace in God.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have thought about this in connection with the various kinds of work God has given people to do. 11 God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God's purpose in this is that people should fear him. 15 Whatever exists today and whatever will exist in the future has already existed in the past. For God calls each event back in its turn.
These verses give me such comfort. It list all the emotions every human feels at some point in their lives and tells us it's okay to feel that way, but only for a time. I have a little saying that my friends have heard often, "don't wallow." In other words, don't deny the emotions you feel, just don't hang onto them. God has given his stamp of approval to feel the way you feel, but then you must get up and move on.
One thing God doesn't list are the emotions of anger and happiness. Why? I'm thinking it's because there is no place for unrighteous anger in our lives and happiness is it's antonym. A righteous anger is a fleeting anger. It's justified for correction, but then the anger is gone. Unrighteous anger engulfs and causes us to sin. It also tends to hang around forever.
Today, I pray you will find comfort in this season of your life.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Satisfaction Comes From God

Ecclesiasties 2:17-27
17 So now I hate life because everything done here under the sun is so irrational. Everything is meaningless, like chasing the wind. 18 I am disgusted that I must leave the fruits of my hard work to others. 19 And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? And yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work. How meaningless!
20 So I turned in despair from hard work. It was not the answer to my search for satisfaction in this life. 21 For though I do my work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, I must leave everything I gain to people who haven't worked to earn it. This is not only foolish but highly unfair. 22 So what do people get for all their hard work? 23 Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night they cannot rest. It is all utterly meaningless.
24 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. Even this, however, is meaningless, like chasing the wind.

The first part of this passage is filled with selfishness. Taking what we earn with us to the afterlife instead of leaving it to others seems like a great idea. It doesn't work, and Solomon knew it. Therefore he saw no need in working hard for someone else's interest. His realization that working to earn an inheritance for descendants wasn't the important thing. It was the work. The work itself is the satisfaction, and the satisfaction in work comes from God. He is the one who truly fills our life with sweetness. If we have God, we are satisfied.

I pray that you will find sweetness and satisfaction through our Heavenly Father.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eccelisates 2:12-15
12 So I decided to compare wisdom and folly, and anyone else would come to the same conclusions I did. 13 Wisdom is of more value than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. 14 For the wise person sees, while the fool is blind. Yet I saw that wise and foolish people share the same fate. 15 Both of them die. Just as the fool will die, so will I. So of what value is all my wisdom? Then I said to myself, "This is all so meaningless!" 16 For the wise person and the fool both die, and in the days to come, both will be forgotten.

Getting this look inside Solomon's mind is so refreshing. Even with all the despair, I feel great affirmation. The problems and concerns I have in this world, are the same feelings the wisest man felt.

One things that stands out to me, the observation that wisdom is worth it. Although the wise and foolish "share the same fate." It's better to be wise. Therefore, it's better to have knowledge than wallow in ignorance.

Today I pray you will find soloace in these wise words.

Monday, May 12, 2008

In Search of Meaning

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11
I said to myself, "Come now, let's give pleasure a try. Let's look for the `good things' in life." But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 2 "It is silly to be laughing all the time," I said. "What good does it do to seek only pleasure?" 3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. While still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I hoped to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.
4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. 7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned great herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who lived in Jerusalem before me. 8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!
9 So I became greater than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. And with it all, I remained clear-eyed so that I could evaluate all these things. 10 Anything I wanted, I took. I did not restrain myself from any joy. I even found great pleasure in hard work, an additional reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

Everytime I read this passage, I see so many people I know--including myself. We spend our lives searching for happiness in all the wrong places. The nicest and finest life can offer leaves us discontented and restless. Once we accomplish our goals, we find ourselves hungry for something new. Instead of taking our longings to the Lord, we try to fill that hunger ourselves according to the world's standards. We must remember this world will never be able to satisfy a hunger that is for God. It's like eating candy bars instead of healthy food. They may satisfy your physical hunger for a moment, but the empiness your body feels never goes away. It craves nourishment and cleansing, not a quick fix.

Our souls crave this same kind of nourishment. The kind only God can supply.

I pray you will look for your contentment in God, not in the world.