For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT
While Ecclesiastes may feel discouraging, it’s really not. It’s actually quite possible to find encouragement in the book. There is plenty of wisdom in it, and where there is wisdom, we can be encouraged.
Chapter three talks about there being a time for everything. There is a season for everything. It’s hard to believe or accept that there is a time for life and death, crying and laughing, love and hate, and a time for peace and war. But rather than be discouraged by this, what would happen if we embraced it?
Maybe what makes life difficult is not understanding the times. With that said, God knows the time for all of these things. It’s not up to us to figure it out or try to manipulate it, but to accept it. In accepting this, perhaps we can embark on a journey of peace about timing. After all, God has the perfect timing.
These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem. “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 NLT
So, as you can see, we’re off to a great start. 🙂 It’s likely that this is written by Solomon, the wisest man to ever live. He’s coming out of the gate with this statement.
Everything is meaningless. It is completely meaningless. In other words, there’s no purpose to anything, and there’s no purpose in anything. Ouch!
I love that this is in the Bible. Not because i love or feed off of negativity. It’s quite the opposite of that idea. I love it because it’s so real and raw. Sometimes, this is genuinely how we feel. Sometimes, I feel like asking, what’s the point? This week, I’ve felt that way. Now, I can’t wallow in this feeling, but I need to address that it is a very real feeling.
Ecclesiastes doesn’t paint a picture of a perfect life. It doesn’t pretend that everything is always all good. People aren’t positive all the time or even most of the time. Materials don’t make peace and joy. That’s the hard truth we read in this book, and the beauty is that as we journey through it, we’ll discover what really makes peace and joy.
I really enjoy the Book of Ecclesiastes. I forget how much I enjoy it until I start reading it. It’s one of the more relatable books to me. Why? Because if we’re honest, sometimes we’re just not feeling it.
I would say, it’s certainly not ironic, but this week I’ve not been feeling it. Not feeling like working and not feeling like making the extra effort. Yet, I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to work. I’ve got to try. But I don’t feel like it…What’s the point?
Do you ever feel that way? Like there’s no point to your routine. Work, maybe play, and back at it all over again. This never-ending cycle of the mundane routine feels draining, doesn’t it?
If you relate to any of that, then you can understand why Ecclesiastes resonates. The Teacher, in the Book of Ecclesiastes is battling the question of life that has carried throughout centuries. What’s the point?
Let’s journey through Ecclesiastes for the answer.
I so rarely if ever write anything about John chapter 1. It’s so meaty, and yet so clear. There’s so much to expound on and yet, so much in plain site for the person who is willing to read it for themselves. All that to say, here are my three big takeaways whenever I read this first part of John.
1) Jesus is the Word (v. 1). 2) Jesus has always been there from the beginning (v. 2). 3) If you really want to know what God is like, look at Jesus and you’ll find out (v. 18).
So what does that mean for us? Well, good news as always.
We can have hope because the Word gives us life and light (v. 4). We have the ability to live and the encouragement to do so in and through Jesus.
We can have confidence in Jesus’ eternal presence but also His eternal love for us because He came into a world He created but was rejected by. The Creator was rejected by His creation. Yet and still, He loves us enough to allow us to seek forgiveness and repent. He even gives us the opportunity to become His children (v. 10-14).
Finally, we can rejoice because we can know God personally and spiritually through Jesus. He is far from distant.
And in addition to all this wonderful news, we can rejoice because there are abundant blessings for the children of God through Jesus Christ (v. 16-18).
Jesus’ death wasn’t fun. He wasn’t super excited about the pain and heartache that awaited Him. He prayed to God that there might be another way. Of course, He knew this was the only way, but if there was even a slight possibility of another route He wanted it. So how did Jesus get through this indescribably difficult moment? I think a few things might have been on His mind and heart.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. – Hebrews 12:2 NLT
The verse says the joy awaiting Him. The question is, what brought Jesus joy?
1) Doing God’s will. In the forefront of everything Jesus did was the fact that it was done as God’s will. In His prayer before being arrested, He still ends with “Father, Your will, not mine.”
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” – Luke 22:42 NLT
2) The joy that awaited Him in eternity. Joy from doing God’s will and an eternity of seeing the results of God’s will was something to look forward to. Sitting at the place of honor next to God and seeing the souls saved by His sacrifice made it worthwhile.
3) The joy of seeing us in eternity. Jesus knew that despite the shame, hurt, and pain, His sacrifice would make possible what otherwise was impossible. His sacrifice would welcome us into the family of God and have eternal results.
And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth. “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. – John 17:19-20 NLT
The fact that Jesus just might have had me in mind when He was sacrificed is plenty cause for joy in me. I’m thankful for a God that sees beyond today, and sees me as eternally worthwhile.
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. – Proverbs 19:11 NLT
There are a lot of ways to earn respect. I’d say this is one of the hardest to me. I’ll call it what it is, pride. My pride makes this a difficult one for me. It’s not that I love pointing out people’s wrongs, I just want to.
If someone wrongs me, I want people to know that they did. There’s some pride that comes from knowing I’m innocent in a situation and they’re not. But that’s not right or sensible.
Sensible people control their tempers. As we’ve read in Romans, the godly let God have His vengeance and we don’t take matters into our own hands. The sensible earn the respect of others by overlooking wrongs against them.
Overlook means making a conscious decision to look over what’s been done to them. It’s not about ignorance, but in essence about forgiveness. Sensible people choose humility over pride, and forgiveness rather than vengeance. They don’t make the easy choice but rather the godly one.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18 NLT
Here we go again. Work to live in peace with everyone. Paul really wanted to get this point across to the Romans. The point that we need to work towards harmony. We need to live in peace, and not just with other believers but with everyone.
If believers won’t live in peace, should we expect anyone else to? Hear me out, people should make the choice to come to Jesus Christ on their own. We will all be accountable for what we chose to do with the truth. However, Christians should live in a way that makes following Christ attractive.
I’m not saying we have to present our lifestyle as “fun,” although being a Christian is fun. We should be attractive in the peace we have. We should be attractive in the kindness we show. We should be attractive in the joy of the Lord.
Yes, I believe Paul is telling the Romans to work hard at peace, which can be difficult, but I also believe there are some simple ways start doing that. Forgive quickly. Apologize first. Find joy in every day. Work hard to live in peace because that’s what’s going to influence others.