Ecclesiastes Devotional Guide: Week 12
*Every week during our 12 week series in the book of Ecclesiastes we will post a devotional guide that week for the passage that was preached on the most recent Sunday. We encourage you to engage this book of the Bible more fully by walking through this devotional each week after having listened to the sermon on Sunday.*
Week 12- Ecclesiastes 1-12
From the moment your eyes open in the morning you are embarking on a day filled with opportunities. At every moment you are presented with situations and circumstances that give you the chance to know, treasure, enjoy, worship, and obey Christ more. You can take advantage of these opportunities or not. To do so brings perfect joy, fulfillment, meaning, and contentment. To fail to do so will, at best, bring an inferior, fleeting version of these, and will, at worst, bring frustration, discontentment, hopelessness, and meaninglessness. God gives us these opportunities and everything we need in Christ, His word, and the power of the Holy Spirit to daily take hold of the full life only found in Jesus. This is wholly a gift of His love and grace. But we often either don’t see these opportunities or don’t take advantage of them.
Throughout Ecclesiastes Solomon has taken us on quite the journey to find meaning, hope, and fulfillment in this life “under the sun” where sins, struggles, and trials abound. During our short lives we long and look for meaning in all sorts of places (pleasure, money, work, achievements, relationships, etc.) other than the one place it is truly found—God. When we look to the things of this world to provide ultimate meaning and purpose, at best our longings are temporarily appeased, but we are never truly satisfied. We move from one thing to the next in a vain search for fulfillment, and then we die. This type of life can only elicit despair, which is what Solomon has been trying to show us throughout this whole book.
But he has also shown us the better way to live “beyond the sun” with a hope and satisfaction firmly rooted in Christ that gives us eternal perspective to instruct our daily lives. He has repeatedly said that God is sovereign over all things and gives us everything in this life as good gifts for us to enjoy to His glory. Even the difficulties and trials come by His sovereign approval (Eccl. 3:2-8, 11, 14; 7:14) and are opportunities for us to wisely “fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). So, if our lives on this earth are short, the things of this world (even the good things) don’t bring ultimate meaning and fulfillment, and true joy and satisfaction only come through Christ, then the best way for us to live is to take advantage of every moment and opportunity to better know and worship Jesus.
Solomon gets at this idea in his various “joy” passages where he commends eating, drinking, and taking pleasure in work and relationships (Eccl. 2:24-25; 3:12-14; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7-10). There are plenty of good things in this world to enjoy to the glory of God so long as we don’t make them gods in our lives. And we can only truly enjoy these things, and all things, when we recognize them as coming from God and we enjoy them for God (“This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?—Eccl. 2:24-25). We can only truly enjoy God’s gifts when we are satisfied in the gift Giver. Without an awareness of these truths our sinful hearts are inclined to look to the things of this world to give us the meaning and satisfaction they were never designed to give.
Recognizing these truths helps us to see the reality that everyday is overflowing with opportunities to treasure Jesus. When we go to dinner with friends we can see that as an opportunity to enjoy the taste, refreshment, and sustenance of the food and drink and give God glory for these gifts, rather than glutinously gorge ourselves and get drunk out of sinful and selfish motives. We can get to the office at 8am Monday morning and strive for excellence in our work to magnify the name of Jesus (even if no one else notices) knowing that work and a paycheck are good gifts from God, and putting forth our best effort pleases Him. The alternative is to “have a case of the Monday’s,” complaining, slacking off, and dishonoring our Creator and Savior. When we face trials and suffering we can see that as an opportunity to rest in the fact that our hope, joy, and satisfaction come from Christ, and our circumstances can never change that. When we are faced with temptation to give in to sin we can see that as an opportunity to humbly submit to God’s word because we find joy in glorifying His name through glad-hearted obedience, and we know that “his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3) but are for our ultimate good. We have innumerable opportunities everyday to be fully satisfied in Christ and to magnify the name of Christ. This is truly the better way to live.
And we would be wise to take advantage of these opportunities every single day because the reality is that all we have is today—we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Solomon has been sure to repeatedly remind us of our mortality, hammering home the point that we will all die. And no one knows the day or hour of their death, for those are in God’s sovereign hands. Every situation and circumstance happening in your life right now is the best thing for you because it has come from the hands of a loving heavenly Father. You aren’t guaranteed to make it to 90 years old or even until tomorrow morning. All you are guaranteed is right now. So live your life to the fullest for Christ by treasuring Christ above all else!
Stop believing the lies that the things of this world can satisfy your deepest longings, only Christ can. Take every opportunity, circumstance, relationship, possession, etc. to increase your joy by declaring to the world, yourself, and God that He is enough. You have all you need in Christ alone. We are so prone to forget these truths and to pursue things other than Jesus. But we have a Savior who lovingly shows us these errors, gives us grace and strength to fix our eyes on Him, and satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts with Himself.
What areas in your life are you most prone to forget that Christ is enough and chase after worldly things?
How can you do a better job of daily looking to, and trusting in, Jesus to satisfy all of your longings and desires?
What does worship look like in your life? Do you find joyful worship of Christ to be a regular practice of yours? How can your heart be moved to joyful worship more frequently?
How does your heart approach obedience to God’s word? Is it a joy to obey God’s commands or a grudging obligation? Confess and repent of areas in which you don’t trust God to command what is best for you.
How can you better live every day with the desire to take advantage of every opportunity to know, treasure, worship, and obey Jesus?
1 John 5:1-5
Be intentional to take time every day this week to worship Jesus. This could be prioritizing listening to worship music, taking time to thank and worship Jesus based on what you read in God’s word, taking the opportunity to worship as you go about your daily life, getting out in nature, etc. All of life is an opportunity to thank and worship Jesus for who He is and what He has done. The point of this daily practice is to help our hearts to see that truth and rejoice.