Tag Archive | Ecclesiastes

MEANINGFUL LIFE UNDER THE HEAVENS (guest post)

Centuries ago, a wise teacher conveyed his reflection on the meaning of life.  In his writings classified as wisdom literature, the Teacher said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 NIV)  Yes, the time for birth is the beginning of a human being under the sky. But this isn’t an endless journey.  There is a time limit that no one can reject, namely the time to die.  Among these two phases, humans live a life full of color and dynamics.  Humans work, study, have fun, work, enjoy happiness, partying, prosperity, success, but in it there is also pain, loneliness, pain, poverty, destruction, and experiencing injustice.  All can come at any time, to anyone, whether they deserve it or not.  About all of that, the Teacher who was rich, powerful, and had the potential and opportunity to enjoy everything available in the world, gave his skeptical views: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2 NIV)  Then, about the various things that humans do throughout their lives under heavens, the Teacher concluded pessimistically that all these things are “chasing after the wind.”  What does that mean?

 

HEBEL, HEBEL, HEBEL

Hebel, a Hebrew word which in some copies translates as vanity, meaningless, futility, is a word that is repeated 37-38 times in Ecclesiastes.  Hebel, a word that means “through the breath, a breeze, a smoke, water vapor” is a very appropriate word to describe how short human life is.  Whether living for 30, 50, 60, 70, 90, or 100 years, all is like a single breath compared to limitless time, namely eternity, where every human being will go.

Hebel is the same word that is also used in Psalm 39: 4-6.  “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.  Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.  Selah.  Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they [b]busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches,  And does not know who will gather them.” (NKJV)

As with the Teacher, the Psalmist also viewed human life as “hebel”.  Very short, as a flash of shadow passed.  Contemplate … how briefly it can be finally be truly in vain if man only seeks satisfaction and the meaning of his life from what is transitory and temporary!  Then, what is the benefit of grandeur and pride under heaven, if in the end all things that are painstakingly pursued and maintained must be abandoned, and not contribute anything to eternity.  Up to this point, it is perfectly appropriate for the Teacher to describe it as vanity and chasing after the wind.  Then, how should humans go through life so that they aren’t trapped in a vortex of futility and a chasing after the wind?

 

CHRIST BE THE CENTER OF LIFE

The teacher doesn’t mean to say that human life is meaningless and useless, but that is what will happen if humans live their lives in their own way and do good things according to their own thoughts, without really seeking God.  Therefore, let’s return to the Teacher’s statement about the time for humans under heaven: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.”  This statement shows that God has full power and sovereignty over everything, including determining the time of birth and death of everyone, without humans being able to choose for themselves.  However, between birth and death there is a period of time in which humans live their lives and in this life humans are given free will to determine their own choices, including those relating to relationships with God.

Praise God the Father, if at one moment we have made the decision to receive salvation in Jesus Christ.  It is grace that has transformed our status into a child of God and made a significant difference to our entire life.  When we accept Jesus Christ, at that time there is also a displacement of purpose in eternity, namely from death to life, from curse to blessing, from vanity to the divine vocation.  Faith in Christ is a step that immediately puts us on the path of grace which provides unlimited power and opens opportunities for us to do noble things that are eternal, according to God’s time and determination.

The power has been given by God, His help is available, but how the outcome depends on how we live our lives, whether we really make Christ the center of our lives or not.  Making Christ the center of our lives means making Christ the only foundation, source, goal and motivation, which controls all our thoughts, actions and attitudes in all aspects of life.  The sincerity of making Christ the center of our lives will be reflected in every choice of our response to everything that God has permitted to happen throughout our lives.  Whether we obey the desires of the flesh or the will of the Holy Spirit, obey our feelings or obey to do the word of God, continue to believe or be disappointed with God, and remain faithful to the end or leave God.  In the end, the choice for choice will determine the life we ​​live in, in vain or produce fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Later, we must give accountability before God.

 

ENJOY LIFE IN THE FEAR OF GOD

” Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 NIV)

Actually, this whole life journey is a preparation for an inevitable responsibility, which must be faced by each person, personally.  Later, there is no reason and defense for every sin and mistake, because God has given us a lifetime opportunity to repent, be changed and shaped by God.  Therefore we must truly live right before God, because all of our responses to God when we are still alive today greatly determine how and where we will be in eternity.  God has bestowed salvation, given the Holy Spirit as Helper and Comforter, and has given the word that becomes the guide and contains the promises we need.  We just have to always live in fear of God.  Not fear of His judgment, but fear of God because we love and respect God.  So, we will be able to see and respond to this life properly so that we can receive and enjoy what God has provided in our lives with satisfaction and gratitude.  Thus, our focus isn’t on the pleasures of this world, but on God who gives everything.  As the Teacher’s advice: “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 5: 18-19 NIV) 

Life isn’t easy, maybe we have done wrong and failed many times, but as long as we wholeheartedly want to surrender ourselves to God, then God will help us rise again and again.  His love always forgives and His power certainly strengthens and enables us to live according to His purpose and plan, so that our lives and labors aren’t in vain.  Then later … when we stand face to face with God to account for our every act, we will look at the face of Jesus Christ without feeling accused, but with relief and gratitude because God has made our lives meaningful.  Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( pixabay.com ) edited with pixlr apps

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Behind the Sadness

 

Hello dear readers!! It’s me again. How’s you going? I hope and pray everything is going well with all of you. My post this time isn’t a new post. I wrote it a year ago but has never been posted before. I hope and pray this post could be a blessing to all of us.

Not many people know that I’m a melancholic woman. I have a very sensitive feeling. I’m easily moved and sad. My tears easily drop when I see something really touched my heart such as sad movie or story. Many people argue that someone who easily touched, sad, and crying is a weak people. Well, I don’t agree with this opinion. People who are sensitive or easily sad aren’t necessarily a weak person. Sadness is a thing that couldn’t be separated from our lives.  No matter how good we organize our lives, still, there’re times we’ve to feel sad and should to cry. A simple example, we could be feeling sad and crying caused losing someone who we really love. My dear readers, through this post allow me to discuss about this topic. Let’s see what God’s word says about sadness.

Indeed, the Lord doesn’t want us to be people who are full of sadness but instead wants His children to be full of joy to completely feel His love and cares. Yet, as I said before at a time unavoidably, like it or not we should get into the sad time and situation and we even cannot avoid it. There’re many verses in the Bible which strengthens us to go back to feel joy when in difficult conditions, under pressure or when oppressed, but God’s word also said that:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4)

There’s a bible verse that sounds very controversial and opposed with the strengthen verses. Begin with the passage: “The Value of Practical Wisdom” It’s written:

Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. (Ecclesiastes 7:3)

This verse was written by the most wise man who ever existed in the world, Solomon! But, this verse seemed pretty weird. This verse as though has a meaning suggest us to be sad because will be better than to be happy. Is that true? Does God want us to be people who are often filled with sadness? Does God want us to be person who always have grim face and cheerless? Furthermore, let’s say God allows us to feel sorrow, what’s benefit for us? If any, what are they?

Essentially, God doesn’t want all of us to be in a prolonged sadness. He gives so many tips and promises that can affirm, strengthen and restore us into a sense of happiness, full of peace and joy. But once again, there’re times we’ve to be sad and it isn’t wrong as long as we could handle it very soon and not make our relationship with God frays. Well, it turns out, based on my experience, there’re positive things we can learn and it all will make us become stronger, wiser and better than before. After took quite long time to ponder this verse, I finally conclude that this verse break a paradigm that we absolutely shouldn’t grieve no matter the situation and condition. So that means, although we have to live joyfully and peacefully, if one day we must be sad, just be sad because through our sadness we could learn something positive and it will makes us better in the future and finally will bring happiness to our heart.

My beloved readers, let’s take a look to the next verse of Ecclesiastes 7. This following verse also looks so weird.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. (Verse 4)

Let’s to be honest, where we like to be, at the house of mourn or in a festive party? Of course we would prefer want to be in the party. There’s no sadness there. We just happy and enjoy the delicious foods, drinks, and other. But God’s word says the opposite. The fool is in the house of pleasure and the wise is in the house of mourning.  This verse will be difficult to accept but let’s take a look why being at the house mourning is better than the party house. Let’s think about the true meaning of this verse.

For an example, let say, we are in the festive birthday party. What we think about while we are in that party? I am pretty sure when in a party we don’t think about important and essential things of our lives. Probably we don’t ponder and think hard the way out of problems we face. We will dissolve in the festive spirit and we will busy involved in chat with friends or relatives. Now, in the house of mourn. Being in the house of mourn often brings the moment of reflection for us. Maybe we will think and ponder that life is short, maybe we will think about of our own lives whether we are ready if one day God calls us home to the Father’s home. Or maybe we will think weather in our lives we have pleasing God? The point is being in the house of mourn will usually remind us and bring a reflection for us and make us wiser. This’s the essential significance of the verse.

I reminded of David’s word that was written in Psalm 119:71 and in my opinion still related with the verses in the Ecclesiastes. David said,

” It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”

David didn’t use his hard time as an excuse to be weak, to be disappointed to God, desperate, hopeless, and so on. He even felt that it was an opportunity to explore deeper about God’s statutes, learn more than before, and made it as moment to feel God’s touching extraordinarily.

Many people around me often said that I’m a woman who has never experienced trouble and sadness. Oh no! That’s totally wrong! Like other women I also often sad and cry, I often experience the pressure of the hard problems, even I’ve experienced being at the lowest and hardest point in my life. But in that very bad condition I was always reminded and strengthened by that verses. There’s a time for everything.  When I have to weep and cry in sorrow, that does not mean God is being cruel and having fun torturing me. Precisely for me, at that moment the Lord is forming me be strong and resilient. The hard situation teach me to be wiser and closer to God.

My dear friends, what about us now? Weather we are in “sad” season? If yes, this time I encourage all of us not to be discouraged and do not despair. Don’t waste our sad time just by moaning and crying but let’s use those time reflect thoroughly. Once again, please trust me, based on my own experience, there’re many valuable lesson we can learn behind our sadness.  Please be grateful because behind our suffering and sorrow, realize that we’re being formed and transformed to be stronger and wiser person. Through the difficult season we will experience spiritual and faith growth, learn more about God statutes, learn to always rely on God’s power more than anything. There’s a time for everything! Let’s put our faith on it and totally trust to God that in God’s time, He will lift all of our sorrow and change it to relief, joy, peace and happiness. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

Image source: thedailyverses.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

IN THE ETERNITY (Guest Post)

Thousands years have passed

Tirelessly the earth rotates

The sun shines from the east then walks to the west

The wind blows from the south then whirl to the north

 

Water flows along the river and flocked into the sea

Then fly into the sky and jump down to wet the ground

 

From age to age all recurring… as if it never ending…

 

One generation comes… another generation away

The new life comes… another life must go away

 

Earth indeed rotating millions times

But our life clock rotates only once

And no one knows when it will stop

 

Later when the life clock is no longer ticking

The dust will fused into the earth where it was taken

The human Spirit comes home to God in the eternity

 

Nothing efforts that can be grasped

There is no perishable thing that can be sustained

 

Life under the sun is just a piece of time that too jiffy

Thousands years are nothing compared to eternity

 

If eventually all will vanish and meaningless

Shall we merely pursue what is ultimately in vain and useless??

 *****

 

“ALL HUMAN EFFORTS UNDER THE SUN THAT HAS DONE WITHOUT FEAR OF GOD IS A VANITY OF VANITIES.” (Sella Irene – Beautiful Words)

 

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgement, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NKJV)

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. (Philipians 1:21-22a NIV)

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

https://sellairene.wordpress.com

Image source: Google Images