The final days for 2015 are here and most of us cannot believe how quickly this year has passed. Over the next few days, we may choose to sit with a cup of coffee or hot tea and reflect on the past year. Our thoughts will rush to work, family, health, and finances. We may experience thoughts of self-condemnation or question the choices that we have made over the past 12 months. This is the time of year when many of us become very reflective.
And so, it may seem discouraging to read the book of Ecclesiastes during the month of January. What a downer! You want us to read a book that points out the futility of human life. Really? But, I will tell you that we have selected this piece of Hebrew wisdom literature with great purpose and, we believe it is a good place to begin this new year of 2016. In the search for life’s meaning, there is much to learn from the author of Ecclesiastes.
“So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.” ~Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
There is a monotonous pace of life, apart from the Lord, that seems futile, tedious, and unvaried. What am I striving for? How can my hard work and life goals bring deep meaning and satisfaction? But when we partner with the Lord in reverential awe, there is permanence.
“And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:14
I truly appreciated Pastor Will Davis’ sermon application last Sunday morning. He asked each of us to consider 4 or 5 areas where we would like to grow and improve in 2016. He shared 2 of his with us – to develop a stronger prayer life and reach out more intentionally to his neighbors. Reflecting on my notes from his sermon, I realized that these steps of application practice the most important commandments according to Jesus’ words to the teachers of the religious law.
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” ~Mark 12:30, 31
So, as you read through the book of Ecclesiastes this month, consider the focus of your days on this earth. Are you pursuing goals of futility – hard work, pleasure, indulgence, and entertainment? Or are your eyes set on the Lord with a desire to truly know and understand life’s meaning according to the mighty Creator and the One who offers the gift of redemption and eternal life? Despair melts away when life is viewed as a daily gift from God.
Join us in January as we read the book of Ecclesiastes – Ecclesiastes Reading Schedule