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Sunday

May 31st - A Blessed Balance

A Blessed Balance

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-17;

11:7-10;

12:1-8, 13-14)


Graduation Celebration

Public Domain Clip-Art


Perhaps the most famous portion of the Bible book of Ecclesiastes appears in the third chapter. This passage declares the order of God’s purposes in human life:


A Time for Everything


“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NIV)


If our lives are in the Lord’s hands, will we trust Him with our times and seasons?


Great Advice for Graduates


On this final day in the month of May, multitudes of families and school faculties are celebrating commencement ceremonies. Many others have done so recently or are eagerly awaiting their festivities in the coming weeks. Valedictorians, salutatorians, principals, deans, authors, scholars and celebrities are polishing and delivering commencement speeches.


What advice can be gleaned from Ecclesiastes for those who will march in graduation ceremonies to receive their hard-earned diplomas? What words of wisdom might help to launch these young adults into the world?


Certainly, anyone contemplating past accomplishments and future direction can identify with the message of Ecclesiastes. What better occasion to place one’s trust in the living Lord, who knows the end from the beginning and holds the future in His own hands?


Today, it seems somehow fitting to revisit a song made popular in the 1960s. Composed in 1959 by folk-rocker Pete Seeger, and based on today’s passage from the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, here is “Turn, Turn, Turn (to Everything There Is a Season).” In this video, the song is performed by The Byrds.


.

.


Will you pray with me?


Heavenly Father,

How we love You.

We thank You for guiding

And holding

And keeping us

Each day of our lives.

We pray for those who are graduating

And entering new callings.

Lead us all

Along the paths

You have carved

For our lives,

For You know best

In your wisdom,

Mercy

And love.

Amen.


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Saturday

May 30th - Finishing Fine

Finishing Fine

(Ecclesiastes 7:1-18, 27-29;

8:1

10:1-20;

11:1-6;

12:11-12)


End of School

Artist Unknown


Bible scholars classify Ecclesiastes as one of the Books of Wisdom in the Bible. Presumably penned by King Solomon of Israel, Ecclesiastes focuses largely on godly wisdom as a key to blessing and life’s meaning.


Today’s reading includes several key verses, extolling the importance of wisdom and how it trumps other possessions.


“Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter,

but the advantage of knowledge is this:

that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.”

(Ecclesiastes 7:12, NIV)


Within the next week or so, most students and teachers will celebrate the end of the traditional school year. This may be a bittersweet occasion, but most will rejoice enthusiastically at the completion of academic pursuits for the year.


Of course, at the end of the summer vacation, many will look forward eagerly to the beginning of a new semester. Plenty of young people eagerly anticipate reunions with friends. Even teachers and administrators may welcome the convocation of school in the fall. A regular schedule (and paycheck) may be very real assets.


Still, the end of the school year and the successful finish of a course of study is a much greater celebration. What student, parent, teacher or school administrator does not greet this occasion with pride and purpose?


Perhaps this super season offers us a glimpse at the meaning of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes:


“The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.”

(Ecclesiastes 7:8, NIV)


Celebrate summer! Proudly break through that finish line tape. Families, students and faculties: well done.


In the larger picture, may we continue to press on towards the completion of our God-given purpose. May God grant us the grace and power to do His calling. And may He make us ready for His own finish line celebration.

Hallelujah!


Will you pray with me?


Great God,

You have called us to participate

In Your work,

And we are humbled by it.

We are grateful to be part

Of Your plan.

Encourage us,

Empower us,

And urge us onward,

So that we may finish fine

In Your time.

Amen.


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Friday

May 29th - Valid Vows

Valid Vows

(Ecclesiastes 1:12-18;

2:1-26;

4:1-16;

5:1-20;

6:1-9;

7:13-14;

8:2-15;

9:13-18)


Swearing In

Public Domain Photo


Have you ever made a promise to God? I surely have.


How about a promise attached to a prayer? Why do we try to beef up our prayers with overeager vows, as if this practice might add power to our petitions? Do we doubt that God’s grace is enough? Can we actually add anything to our prayers to convince God to act on our behalf, if He has not already determined to do so, on the basis of His great love alone?


What happens to our vows after the crisis has passed? Do we keep our promises to God or to one another?


How many broken promises have we suffered? How many have we made?


In the Bible book of Ecclesiastes, the following instruction appears:


“When you make a vow to God,

do not delay in fulfilling it.

He has no pleasure in fools;

fulfill your vow.

It is better not to vow

than to make a vow and not fulfill it.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, NIV)


Vows can be dangerous stuff. Totally tall orders can be perilous. Isn’t it much more prudent to stand on God’s Word alone, rather than on our own worthless words? (Ow!)


God takes no pleasure in fools, but He loves sinners. In fact, He adores us. All He asks is our own repentance, as we recognize our need for His forgiveness. He has already paid the price, with His own blood, to buy us back from ourselves. What more could we possibly offer Him?


How can we not adore such a God? Why would we need a vow, if our hearts already belong to Him?


Will you pray with me?


Righteous Redeemer,

Faithful Friend,

And Holy One,

Guard our hearts.

Hold us back

From worthless words

And vagrant vows.

May our lives

Be devoted to You,

So we do not dishonor You

With faithless promises

And vain bartering.

The price has already been paid,

And we are eternally grateful.

Amen.


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Thursday

May 28th - Empty or Eternal

Empty or Eternal

(Ecclesiastes1:1-11;

2:12-16;

3:18-22;

6:10-12;

8:16-17;

9:1-12)


Ecclesiastes - The Teacher

Artist Unknown

What is the meaning of life?


The book of Ecclesiastes has puzzled many Biblical students and scholars for millennia. Why would King Solomon (presumably its author) have expressed such frustration over the futility of his life?


Didn’t Solomon construct the tremendous Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem?


Didn’t he also the most elegant and extravagant palace ever constructed?


Wasn’t it Solomon who ruled the nation of Israel during its most peaceful and prosperous era ever?


And didn’t Solomon 700 wives and 300 concubines?


Despite his bounty, Solomon was unsatisfied with the apparent futility of life and searched for meaning.


"’Meaningless! Meaningless!."
says the Teacher.
‘Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.’"

(Ecclesiastes 1:2, NIV)


Where can a meaningful life be found?


Can a human life really be reduced to eight score and ten, or whatever number of days a mortal may be granted upon the earth? Isn’t there much more to be had than a linear length on a lifeline?


I cannot speak for others, but I can offer my own experience. Before I accepted the Lord and His plan for my life, putting my trust in His Word (the Bible) and the promises it contains, I knew no meaning in life.


Sure, I could try to find peace through pleasure, acceptance through accomplishments and happiness through happenstance. But all of those positives have limits.


Only by choosing the Lord’s plan for an abundant eternity in personal relationship with the living Lord of the universe did I find meaning that cancelled the futility of a temporary time of breathing earth’s air.


Have you come to the same conclusion? Where do you find meaning in life?


Will you pray with me?


Great and glorious God,

In You, my life makes sense.

In You, my life has a purpose.

Teach me to trust You

More each day.

Thank You

For making my life count

For eternity.

Amen.


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