DAILY DISCIPLINE #71
By Colleen Donahue
"Life without God--is it really so bad? There are so many things to do and learn and try in life that will be fun, interesting and satisfying. I'm young and don't want to miss anything in life! Surely a life devoted to God will be dull and restricting. Besides, I can always include Him (i.e. God) later on." Has this ever been YOUR thought?
Solomon, the life we've been studying, decided to "sow his wild oats" and then to write about his conclusions in his "journal" called Ecclesiastes. We've followed him through his search for satisfaction in philosophy, science, materialism, fatalism, self-ambition, religion, and wealth. We've seen that many of the teachings of Solomon are quite radical. They represent the philosophy of man "under the sun" - or man apart from God. They do not represent God's views. He tells us the inevitable conclusions that are reached when man tries to find his significance and happiness apart from the Creator who made him.
Solomon as king and one of the richest men the world has known was in a position to do everything-- and that he truely did! Lasting satisfaction and happiness? Hardly. Chapter after chapter is a monotonous expose' on emptiness. But Solomon is about to round a corner and come back to the truth found in God alone.
Solomon Part 4--Conclusions About Life's Meaning (continued)
A FEW ABSOLUTES
Day 1- God is supreme in power and authority. His sovereign hand in the affairs of men will ultimately be the judge.
Ecclesiastes 9:1 / Job 12:10
Day 2- Physical death will be certain for all of us living on earth.
Ecclesiastes 9:2 / Genesis 3:19/ Psalm 89:48/ James 4:14
Day 3- Although we'd like to think that man is basically good, Solomon comes to the same conclusions found throughout scripture.
Ecclesiastes 9:3/ Jeremiah 17:9 / Mark 7:21 / Romans 5:12
Day 4- There will always be hope for those of us that are alive.
I Peter 1:3
COUNSEL TO LIVE 365 DAYS PER YEAR
Day 5- Live happily wherever you are.
Ecclesiastes 9:7 / Deuteronomy 8:10/ I Thessalonians 5:18
Day 6- Walk in purity and the power of the Holy Spirit. (Note: white is a symbol for purity and oil is a symbol for the Spirit of God.)
Ecclesiastes 9:8 / Revelation 3:5 / I Peter 3:3-4
Day 7- Solomon with all his wives was perhaps beginning to see the wisdom of God's plan that we should live with the ONE wife (or husband) that God has given us and be happy in that love. Notice the sarcastic tone he expresses here.
Ecclesiastes 9:9 / Proverbs 5:18-19
Day 8- Throw yourself fully into........"whatever".
Ecclesiastes 9:10/ 11:6 / Colossians 3:23
Day 9- Success is not what you think it is. Human ability cannot guarantee genuine success.
Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 / Zechariah 4:6 / Deuteronomy 8:17-18 II Chronicles 26:5
Day 10- Wise men on earth live with a plan for the future (insurance, a retirement account etc. ) as they never know what might happen. Wise men do the same in regard to their eternal destiny.
Ecclesiastes 8:7/ 9:12 Luke 21:34-35 / Matthew 24: 42-44
A PARABLE -- LISTEN TO YOUR CONSCIENCE
Day 11- Could it be that the city in this parable suggests a life under pressure?
Day 12- The "poor man" might also be our inner heart, our conscience that quietly waits to be obeyed. Strength is more impressive than wisdom but less effective. Yet, wise counsel is never very popular, rarely obeyed, and seldom remembered.
Ecclesiastes 9: 15-16
Day 13- Human rulers will always outshout wise counselors and fools prefer the former. For example-- maybe you're struggling with sexual immorality. Books and advisors seem to "shout" - go ahead! Restraint is puritanical and unhealthy. Yet your conscience quietly speaks within you to wait.
Day 14- Our conscience speaking within will lead us in the right way but one person (i.e. ourselves) bent on doing what we want, when we want it will crush and smother that conscience so that truth will not be heard. Rather, what is wrong will become rationalized to be right.
Ecclesiastes 9: 17-18 / II Thessalonians 2:8-12/ II Timothy 4:3-4
CONTRASTS BETWEEN WISDOM AND FOLLY
Here's a few definitions that will help you read the next verses. Folly= lack of good sense or foresight. It is failing to realize the consequences of a stupid act BEFORE IT OCCURS.
"Right" = that which is worthy of our effort and pursuit.
"Left" = the way a fool goes.
Day 15- Just a little bit of folly, if it remains in a life of dignity and honor will cast a dark shadow over all the honor that characterized the life and eventually ruin a reputation.
Day 16- Fools don't learn or listen. They are notorious for their stupidity.
Ecclesiastes 10: 2-3
Day 17- Do you have a hot-headed boss? A fool will meet anger with anger, but the wise man has patience and humility.
Day 18- Unfortuneately, fools aren't limited to the lower places of esteem. They sometimes become governors, congressmen and even presidents! They may be the ones who own the business and call the shots, while others more qualified work quietly without regard.
Ecclesiastes 10: 5-7
Day 19- Symbolism is used in these verses as several dangerous situations are listed. Earlier, Solomon said in essence that wisdom prepares the way for success and wisdom thinks ahead, BEFORE the fact. Snakes need not bite us!
Ecclesiastes 10: 8-11
How do we get wisdom?
James 1:5 / Proverbs 2:1-9
Day 20- A Fools Portrait----
Can you pick out at least 4 ways that a fool demonstrates his/her stupidity?
Ecclesiastes 10: 12-20
SOME WISE COUNSEL FOR SUCCESSFUL LIVING
Day 21- Instead of protecting what you have - release yourself. Instead of hoarding - give and invest. Success begins in terms of giving- not getting.
Ecclesiastes 11: 1-2
Day 22- Many people spend their time standing around trying to predict what may happen in order to act. But Solomon warns that if you spend too much time watching how the wind blows you'll never plant!
Day 23- Start giving and doing and living NOW! Don't wait for all the conditions to be perfect. Then start to trust God for the results.
Ecclesiastes 11:6 /Proverbs 12:11/ Romans 12:11
Day 24- We are meant to enjoy life to its fullest at all ages. God gives us just enough warnings to keep us obedient and living in His freedom.
Day 25- Solomon finally returns to what he perhaps only knew in his head before but now can say from his heart. The word "remember" is from a Hebrew word meaning "to act decisively on behalf of someone." We are meant to live life acting decisively on behalf of the living God.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 / Deuteronomy 8:18-19 / Psalm 63:1-8
A POETIC PICTURE OF AGING
Day 26-27 - Please read this next section altogether for it is Solomon's rather accurate description of aging. I'll help with the symbolism.
Vs.2 - mental dullness and depression
Vs.3 - Keepers of the house refers to shaking of the head and trembling of the voice and hands. Strong men refers to the legs.
Grinders = the teeth
Those that look through windows = the eyes
Vs.4 - Doors on the street are shut = hearing loss
Daughters of song are brought low= our voice changes and we can't sing as we once did.
Vs.5 - New fears of heights, speed and increasing preoccupation with dangers.
Almond tree blossoms = greying hair
Grasshopper drags along = it takes longer to get places
Vs.6 - Silver cord= spinal cord
Golden bowl= Head (ie.the bowl for the brain)
Pitcher = the lungs
Wheel = the heart
All of this is a picture of the deterioration of the body and mind leading to death.
Day 28- But DEATH is the entrance into life with God! If you turned life over to God and acted decisively for God, then not even the aging process will cancel out His plan to make you into a new person fit for eternity.
Day 29- Solomon's lengthy soul-searching pursuits have come to an end. He has not found any of his "under the sun" discoveries to be satisfying.
Day 30- The truth has won out and now he finishes his entire journal with two "MUSTS".
Ecclesiastes 12: 9-13 (See especially vs. 13)
Day 31- And then he tells us why.
Our journey through life WILL COME TO AN END. Whether we believe it or not there WILL BE A DAY OF RECKONING and a life beyond this one. Is there a secret password? Yes. CHRIST - God's only Son - HE is the way and the truth and the life. Whether you're young or now old, remember Him. He is the ONLY ONE to cleanse you from sin and make you fit for Heaven. He is the only one to give your life right now meaning and purpose.
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