Well, I've been learning a lot lately. Last night I was reading Ecclesiastes and I couldn't stop reading! So I ended up reading the whole book. I think it's my favorite book of the Bible now. It applies to my life so well. It talks about how we all live and die and how life is so worthless... and without Christ, our life is worthless.
But I think what really stuck out to me were these verses:
"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. 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 really nothing worthwhile anywhere." -Ecclesiastes 2:10-11
I know that working hard is a good thing, but what I really thought about was working so hard at something that is not worthwhile. I've been filling my life with things that are not neccessary. Things that I thought were, but they have only been stressing me out. And if God is at the center of everything that I do, then I know that it won't stress me out. It'll be challenging, yes. But not stressful, not exhausting -- but refreshing.
"So I turned in despair from hard work. It was not the answer to my search for satisfaction in this life." - Ecclesiastes 2:20
(Make sure you don't take that the wrong way, though. God wants us to work hard at everything we do. "Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." - Colossians 3:23)
"I discovered that God created people to be upright, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path." - Ecclesiastes 7:29
^ How often do I see that being portrayed in so many people's lives around me (and even in my own life sometimes). It is so sad to see good friends and family members walk away, slowly, step-by-step, away from their Savior. They will soon find, though, that the path they have chosen over God's path is worthless. I know people who have been on both paths, and they say that there is nothing for them on the wrong path. Following Christ makes life worthwhile. It makes cause for joy, to know that God walks with me through all of my situations. It gives me a peace, to know that God forgives and forgets and that my life is in His hands.
"Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right." - Ecclesiastes 8:5b
I need to remember that so often in my life. It is so easy to just do what is wrong and then ask for forgiveness for it later. But that is playing with God's grace. And that is a very dangerous, and wrong, thing to do. I want to do what is right, all the time. I want to do things God's way. I want to reflect Christ in all I do and say. But that is so hard when I am around people who are negative. It is so hard when I am around people who are slowly walking down the wrong path. It is so hard when I am around people who think they are so much better than me. It is so hard. But "those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right". I need to always remember that -- especially in compromising situations.
And in the final verses of the book of Ecclesiastes --
"Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad." - Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
And that should be on my mind at all times. I need to remember that everything I do will be taken into account when I stand before God. I am so so grateful for God's amazing grace, or I would be terrified to stand before God's holy throne. Though I do fear standing before God's Throne, it is only because He is such a holy, perfect, awesome, all-powerful God. But because I have accepted His free gift of Salvation and because I follow Him, I don't need to be afraid that I will be thrown into the depths of hell -- because I will be led through the gates of Heaven to be with my Lord Jesus Christ. I am awed at that thought! At that truth!
I just thought that I would share with you what I have been learning lately. And I encourage you to read the book of Ecclesiastes. It's a good book.
Well this morning the Wissmann's visited our church. If you don't know who they are, they're a family of 15 (13 kids!) who travel and visit churches to sing. They are an amazing family, and it is very relevant in their lives that they live for Christ. It is so encouraging to see a family living for God the way that they are.
So, as I strive to become more and more like Christ, I would encourage you to do the same. If any of you need to talk about anything, I'm here. I don't know all of the answers, but I will definitely try to help you.