COME NEAR TO GOD AND HE WILL COME NEAR TO YOU. (James 4: 8)
ECCLESIASTES, Chapter: 3 – 6
THERE IS A TIME FOR EVERYTHING, AND A SEASON FOR EVERY ACTIVITY UNDER HEAVEN (v.3:1)
…I KNOW THAT EVERYTHING GOD DOES WILL ENDURE FOREVER; NOTHING CAN BE ADDED TO IT AND NOTHING TAKEN FROM IT. GOD DOES IT SO THAT MEN WILL REVERE HIM. (Ecclesiastes 3: 14)
MATTHEW 11: 25 – 30 and JOHN 14
(JESUS SAID) – COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHO ARE WEARY AND BURDENED, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST. TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU AND LEARN FROM ME, FOR I AM GENTLE AND HUMBLE IN HEART, AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. FOR MY YOKE IS EASY AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT. (Matthew 11: 28-30)
These four chapters from the Book of Ecclesiastes are helping us to MEDITATE on the Teacher’s observations from life. According to Solomon – as he describes in Chapter 3, 28 different seasons of life – CHANGE is definitely guaranteed for all of us. Examining these 28 seasons or times of life we can see that for every positive there is a negative. The sum total is zero. This is the human perspective. In the Gospel of John chapter 14 – as Jesus met His disciples – He told them that change was coming. He was going to depart but they were to have no fear, because he was sending them the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for Holy Spirit is “Parakléitos” which means: “One who comes alongside and brings help and comfort”. This is the difference faith in Christ can make. God uses change to shape His children and to open our eyes to His presence. We are not alone. We need to learn to embrace change. This is easier to write than to do. But change is what turned Mary, the peasant girl into the mother of the Son of God, David, the shepherd boy into the King of Israel, and the change of Jesus’ blood covering over our sins is what turns you and me from sinners into Children of God.
Take time and examine these 28 seasons or times of life that Solomon writes about. As you see, time is a key word in the third chapter. Dictionaries say that time is a period between two events or a measurable interval. God is sovereign. We believe that God determines the time we will be born and the time when we will die. We can see here that God is in the midst of our relationships and our emotional responses to the changes of life. Let us consider our use of time. We use watches, clocks, laptops, smartphones, diaries and calendars to order our lives. We all have the same amount of time each day, 24 hours. No matter our status in life, no one has more or less time than another, but how we use our time does matter to God: – Be very careful, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is (Ephesians 5: 15-17). Ask God to direct us wisely as we fill our diaries day by day.
When we pour out a jigsaw puzzle from a box and begin to put it together, at first it is a mess. Then one corner is complete, and that part is pleasing to the eye. Then other pieces begin to fit together. At times, to walk away from the puzzle and get a perspective of it, helps, and then as the picture gets completed, the result is satisfyingly beautiful. All our lives are like puzzles. God has brought each piece together. He uses the good and bad to shape us and show himself faithful. He uses our trials and triumphs to draw us to Him and reveal Himself. We must be patient with God as He writes our story and makes the overall picture of life beautiful in its time. God also puts a curiosity for eternity within us even as little children, so we would seek after Him. He grants the believer the ability to have joy and do good. On my mission trips I have seen people with the ability to have joy and do good even when they had so very little. I feel ashamed that by taking so many things for granted we are the ones lacking in joy and the time to do good to others. Eternity is in God’s good hands. Solomon’s conclusion is that we must rejoice in our work and our lot of life till eternity will come.
Affliction and competition should be the title of Chapter 4. Solomon explores riches and wisdom and living the high life, but also the depths of pain and suffering that people face under the sun. Two contrasts of living: a competing successful and skilled person, compared to a lazy man with no ambition or direction of life. Then, a workaholic loner: There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless – a miserable business! (Ecclesiastes 4: 8). Finding rest for weary and burdened souls there is only one possibility: Coming to Jesus and learning from him what and how to achieve it.
By nature, man is instinctively religious. People in their privacy always want to worship “something”. Our God wants us together. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10: 24 -25). Solomon also cautions on the way we approach God and we speak to God. Speaking slowly, carefully, thoughtfully and sincerely to God is an indication of wisdom. When vows are made, to the best of our ability, they should be kept. This includes marriage vows. Then Solomon returns to one of his earlier topics on the meaninglessness of personal wealth and riches. Contentment in possessions is indeed godly wisdom.
The man who finds no satisfaction or joy in his soul is spiritually bankrupt. As Solomon says over and over again, a life lived apart from God brings no lasting joy nor satisfaction. It is utterly meaningless. As Jesus declared: – I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty (John 6: 35). By asking who knows what is good in this short life, and who can tell what will happen in this life after we are gone, Solomon, The Teacher, implies that only God – and not the accumulation of wealth – provides the answer to the meaninglessness of life “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 6: 7-12).
Wisdom, to use our God-given time “under the sun” in the best way to find rest for our souls. – Gentleness and humility, to earn peacefulness within ourselves and with God. – True Christlikeness, to be a blessing for others. – The Christian Church Universal in all its branches, for the Church of Scotland in all its Presbyteries and Congregations, for our own fellowship here in Portree, for all our sisters and brothers everywhere. – Healing and comfort for all who suffer from Covid-19 and for all who work to alleviate and contain the Pandemic, and… for loved ones separated by distances, those who are lonely, anxious, depressed or just… bored. For ourselves and for everything – in quiet prayer – in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us sum up all our petitions as Jesus taught us to pray: OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOVED BE THY NAME . . .
I HEARD THE VOICE OF JESUS SAY, – “Come unto Me and rest; lay down, thou weary one, lay down, thy head upon my breast.” I came to Jesus as I was, weary, and worn, and sad; I found in Him a resting-place and He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give the living water; thirsty one, stoop down and drink, and live.” I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream; my thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light; look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.” I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun; and in that light of life I’ll walk, till travelling days are done.
TO HIM WHO IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING AND TO PRESENT YOU BEFORE HIS GLORIOUS PRESENCE WITHOUT FAULT AND WITH GREAT JOY – TO THE ONLY GOD OUR SAVIOUR BE GLORY, MAJESTY, POWER, AND AUTHORITY, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, BEFORE ALL AGES, NOW AND FOREVERMORE! AMEN. (Jude 24-25)