Ecclesiastes Episode 6

Beth's Notes

“1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. 4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5 It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.  6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the [temple] messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. 8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields. 10 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. 11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner  except to feast his eyes on them? 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:  wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, 14 or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. 15 Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This too is a grievous evil: As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind? 17 All his days he eats in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger. 18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him--for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” 

Chapter Six:
“1 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on men: 2 God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil. 3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4 It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. 5 Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man -- 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place? 7 All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied. 8 What advantage has a wise man over a fool? What does a poor man gain by knowing how to conduct himself before others? 9 Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 10 Whatever exists has already been named, and what man is has been known; no man can contend with one who is stronger than he. 11 The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? 12 For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?”

“Make the Word come alive to us, Father make it come alive….”
Spoiler Alert - Worship is to be all about God, not about us – surprise! We seem to tend to forget this and lean towards the “What’s in it for me?” mentality - “Do I like the music?”; “Did the preacher preach on a subject I enjoy?”;  I.E. “Did he speak on something my spouse or my friend so needed to hear and heed?” - (never mind what I might need to hear and heed, Amen?). Worship has become all about me has it not??? – my desires, my likes, my preferences, my whatever I want – in other words, idolatry.  Who is on the throne of our lives anyway?  It always goes back to the heart ladies – always take it back to the heart - good root, good fruit; bad root, bad fruit.  
God seems to have lost His rightful place in our hearts as the Almighty Sovereign King of the universe, Amen? We simply lack the “Awe” we are to have when we approach the throne of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. This travesty was true in Solomon’s day and it is true in our day as well. God does not take orders from us. Yet, we seem to have made His position in our lives to be more of a personal shopper, or a Santa Claus in the sky, or a life coach, or a genie all rolled up into one nice little package of our own making. We see God as a means to an end and not an end in and of Himself as Moses did when he refused to take the Promised Land if God would not go with them. Unfortunately, we seek to use God to get what we think we really want  - not what He wants for us. And believe me, we want what He wants as his will is good, pleasing and perfect. 
Some come back to church, start giving money regularly, and have perfect attendance in Bible study because they hope God will take their cancer away, fix their family or provide them wealth – seeking to use God as a means to our own ends. God will never be manipulated. I read of a man years ago who was experiencing a crisis of faith. He was 40 years old and single, and he was thinking of walking away from the church. He said he had been raised in the church, had wandered away from it in early adulthood, and then came back at 35 because he desperately wanted to be married. For five years he attended worship, tithed regularly, volunteered in ministries, and yet God had not given him a wife. What is wrong with this picture???? Again, we do not manipulate God.
This man didn’t want God. He merely wanted what God could give him.  We so often stand defiant over what we can’t change – stomping our feet like two year old’s that want another ice cream cone – NOW! To will what God wills brings peace to the soul. We are to quit kicking against what is best for our lives. Do we seek His hand or do we seek Him? I am reminded of Asaph’s words in Psalms 73:25-26 when he had envied the arrogant and the prosperity of the wicked and then realized that God had placed them on slippery ground:
“21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:21-26 (NIV)
In our day, it seems religion has become ritualistic and not relational. It is a means to use God for what we want rather than a relationship of faith with Him. His desire for us is to be led by His Spirit and to experience the awe and wonder of simply standing (or better yet, falling on our faces) in His presence. Believers are enabled to do this as we are wrapped in the robe of Christ’s righteousness by the blood of Jesus. We have nothing in our hands to bring only to the cross we cling. 
God is the Creator of everything including you and me. We are to be desirous of what He wants for our lives rather than our own whims and fantasies. In verses 5:1-7 of Ecclesiastes, Solomon exposes that kind of “faux faith” for what it really is – meaningless.
Throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon repeatedly exposed the meaninglessness of life apart from God in this cursed world. God cursed the ground for sin yet many continue to dig in it for sufficiency and happiness – foolishly seeking a blessing out of a curse. Earthly things are transitory and not adapted for the soul’s satisfaction – enjoyable perhaps but never completely satisfying (as God would have it!). Augustine stated:
“Thou hast made us for Thyself, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” Augustine
The thirsty soul is unquenchable until it finds its fullness in God – the Source of true delight. That which is unable to quiet the heart in a storm, is unable to give us true happiness. Material goods cannot soothe a troubled soul or a wounded spirit. What good is money or possessions in the day of death? As Stephen Jobs supposedly stated: He had all this money yet no one to die for him. What he did not realize is that Someone already had and he missed it (at least in that statement). Remember, a wedge of gold will never satisfy an angry God – nor add a single minute to our lives. The world can no more keep out a troubled spirit than a piece of paper can shield us from a bullet.  If this cursed existence under the sun is all there is, then nothing we do has meaning. Nothing we attempt to build our lives on will work. You cannot find satisfaction or meaning in pleasure or work or success or politics or people or anything else for that matter.
Now Solomon turns his gaze to religion. It can also be a dead in street if it is simply formalism, ritualism or manipulation. Remember it is impossible to please God under false pretense as He sees and knows our hearts full well. He desires our faith – Forsaking All I Trust Him. Hebrews 11:1 tells us:
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

And again in Hebrews 11:6:
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

Solomon tells us we are to approach God with great caution and a holy reverent fear – not foolishly or flippantly but in humility. We are so often ignorant of the inferior quality in our approach.  Even the Queens and Kings of England – flesh and blood as you and me – have certain protocols when approaching their presence – how much more so are we to humble our hearts and minds in the presence of the God of all creation as well as watch our words. Remember in Scripture people fell to their faces as though dead in the presence of mere angels – that should give us a great big fat clue here!!! God created man to have an intimate relationship with Him, but due to man’s rebellion that relationship became severed.  Man became separated from intimacy with God. God loved His people and desired to continue relationship with them. The tabernacle, and in Solomon’s day the temple – the house of God – was the place where God lived among His people. The process of approaching God was highly regulated in the law because it was dangerous to even come into the presence of a Holy God. Indeed, death could occur and did occur.  God is holy and we are not. Sin cannot be in His presence. Before Jesus came and tore the curtain from top to bottom approaching God Almighty was no small thing.  It still should not be. Indeed, Scripture tells us in the following verses: Psalms 37:7:
7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Psalms 37:7 (NIV)

Psalms 40:1-3 (NIV):
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalms 40:1-3 (NIV)

Psalms 27:14 (NIV):
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.  Psalms 27:14 (NIV)

And I could find many more – but you get the drift!  Solomon ventures to the temple and watched the worshippers come and go, praising God, praying, sacrificing, and making vows noting many were not sincere in their worship leaving in a worse spiritual condition than before they had entered. What was their sin? Their flippancy robbed God of the reverence and honor that He deserved. Their acts of worship were perfunctory, insincere, and hypocritical. Not to dissimilar to ours today, Amen? 
The worship of God is the highest ministry of the church and must come from devoted hearts and yielded wills. For God’s people to participate in public worship while harboring unconfessed sin is to ask for God’s rebuke and judgment. Isaiah 1:10-20 states:
10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “The multitude of your sacrifices--what are they to me?” says the LORD. I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.  New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations--I cannot bear your evil assemblies. 14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. 18 ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 1:10-20 (NIV)

And we know Sodom and Gomorrah’s end, Amen?

We also see God’s similar warning in Jeremiah 7:1-11:
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message: “‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. 3 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. 9 Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”--safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.’” Jeremiah 7:1-11 (NIV)

And Jeremiah 7:21-24:
 21 “‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! 22 For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.’” Jeremiah 7:21-24 (NIV)

God is serious about proper worship!  While we no longer offer animals to the Lord as in Old Testament times - because Jesus has fulfilled all the sacrifices in His death on the cross – we now, as believers are the priests of God offering up spiritual sacrifices through Him in the following ways:

By our bodies – Romans 12:1-2:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

By people won to the Savior – Romans 15:15-16:
15 I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:15-16 (NIV)

By our money – Philippians 4:18-19:
18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:18-19 (NIV)

By our praise and good works – Hebrews 13:15-16:
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  Hebrews 13:15-16 (NIV)

By a broken heart – Psalms 51:17:
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalms 51:17 (NIV)

By our prayers of faith – Psalms 141:1-3:
1 O LORD, I call to you; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you. 2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. 3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalms 141:1-3 (NIV)

The important thing is that we enter into His Presence more ready to hear and heed that is, to obey the Word of God, than to bring God a list of our wants which we are all so ready to do! Sacrifices are not a substitute for obedience as we have just read.  Offerings in the hands without obedient faith in the heart becomes “the sacrifice of fools,” because only a fool thinks he can deceive God. The fool thinks he is doing good, but he is only doing evil. And God knows it.

Our prayers are serious business and they must not be entered into lightly. When we pray we should pray with sincerity of heart not flippantly with some rote prayer. The secret of acceptable prayer is a humble, prepared heart as the mouth speaks what the heart contains. John Bunyan stated:
“In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.” John Bunyan

Spurgeon also stated:
“It is not the length of our prayers, but the strength of our prayers, that makes the difference.”

God did not require vows to be made in order to be accepted by Him but the opportunity was there for them to express their devotion if they felt led to do so. Yet if you did utter a vow, you were expected to follow through with it to completion. Solomon warned against two sins regarding making vows: the first one was offering it with no intention of keeping it – in other words, foolishly lying to God: and the second one was making a vow but delaying in keeping it – hoping to get out of it. God hears what we say and holds us to our promises unless Providence prevents us from fulfilling what we promised. If we make our vows only to impress others we will pay for our careless words. Many times when people are sick they make promises to God for healing and forget those promises when they recover. Or if they are in a dire situation they pray to be saved from it promising all sorts of things – not a good idea if you are not willing to follow through. Story of Perks on the boat in a storm – happening twice!!! 

People make empty vows because they live in a religious dream world of their own making. There words are not dependable. They enjoy the good feeling which come from uttering such promises to God but they do themselves more harm than good when they never get around to doing it.  We also rob ourselves of the spiritual blessings which God bestows on those who worship Him in spirit and in truth.  Proverbs 20:25 states: 

25 It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows. Proverbs 20:25 (NIV)

Psalms 66:13-15 tells us:
13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you-- 14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble. 15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you and an offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats. Selah Psalms 66:13-15 (NIV)

Numbers 30:2 adding:
2 When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.  Numbers 30:2 (NIV)
Next Solomon addresses corrupt politicians who were oppressing the poor. The government officials violated the law by using their authority to help themselves, fattening their own pockets, and not serving others – a practice that was condemned by Moses. Deuteronomy 24:17-18 states: 
17 Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. Deuteronomy 24:17-18 (NIV)

The remarkable thing is that Solomon wrote, “do not be surprised at such things”- almost an admission to what was occurring with his own officials.    More than likely, his government could scarcely be excluded from the truth that politicians oppressed the poor.  Provincial governors under Solomon had made financial demands to help support his opulence.  Remember, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
In verses 10-20 of Chapter Five, Solomon again addresses money. The person whose God is their money or possessions will never be satisfied no matter how much money they have or how many things they have accumulated because the human heart was made to be satisfied by God alone. Jesus tells us in Luke 12:15:
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15 (NIV)

First the person loves money and then he loves more money, and then he loves even more money and the disappointing pursuit has begun that can lead to all sorts of problems. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:6-10:

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV)

There is certainly no escaping the fact that we need a certain amount of money and things in order to live in this world. And money and things are not inherently bad in and of themselves. It is our priority of these things.  They are no magic “cure-all” for every problem and they will never fully satisfy. They cannot buy you one more minute of life, one person to actually love you, good health, behaved children or whatever – you get the picture.  Indeed, an increase in wealth and material goods usually creates a new set of problems that we never even new existed. John Wesley stated:
“Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” John Wesley

Solomon also wrote that possessing wealth was no guarantee that our nerves would be calm or our sleep sound. According to him, the common laborer sleeps better than the rich man. The hard worker sleeps well but the rich often suffer from insomnia over worry and anxiety. It is good to have the things that money can buy provided we do not lose the things that money cannot buy.

We come into this world naked and we leave in the same outfit. Job states similar words as Solomon in Job 1:21:
21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:20-21 (NIV)

We read in 1 Samuel 2:6-8 that it is God who brings death and makes alive and sends poverty and wealth:
6 “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. 7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 8 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. ‘For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; upon them he has set the world.’” 1 Samuel 2:6-8 (NIV)

FYI, we will not only be held accountable for our money and resources given us but also for the greatest resource which is our time. Do we invest it or fritter it away. Do we seek to do eternal things or merely temporal. It matters greatly how we live our lives – both for now and eternally.  Solomon warns us against the love of money and the delusions that wealth can bring. He also affirms the importance of enjoying the blessings God’s hand bestows to us. Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 tells us:
19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 (NIV)

When we give our children something that they want and they are appreciative and happy with the gift it brings us joy, right?  Same with God.  He enjoys watching His children enjoy the gifts He bestows – it is the rightful response to be thankful for all He allows. In Deuteronomy 12:7 and 17-18 Moses writes:
7 There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you. Deuteronomy 12:7 (NIV)

17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts. 18 Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns--and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to. Deuteronomy 12:17-18 (NIV)

Gratitude from the lips of His children blesses God’s holy heart. Yet in these verses we see that God also enables us to enjoy these gifts. When we rejoice in God’s daily blessings we never have regrets. Indeed, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us: 
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

The time to start storing up happy memories is now. The time to be grateful is now. The time to be content is now. Take each day as it comes and live it fully as unto the Lord, through His power for His glory. We must learn to be a potent demonstration of His transformative love and power in our lives for our spheres of influence. The world watches. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:33:
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
The important thing is that we love the Lord, accept what His hand assigns us, and enjoy the blessings He graciously bestows. If we focus more on the gifts than on the Giver, we are guilty of idolatry. If we accept His gifts, but complain about them, we are guilty of ingratitude. If we hoard His gifts and will not share them with others, we are guilty of indulgence. But if we yield to His will and use what He gives us for His glory, then we can enjoy life and be satisfied.

Contentment and joy are to be trademarks of God’s people. The key is not in how much we have but rather how we view what we do have. The basic idea is to enjoy what God has given us without craving more and more. Why should He provide more is we are not content with what His hand has already bestowed? We often are more concerned over what we do not have that we fail to enjoy or show gratitude for what we do have.

What we have, where we are in life and the ability to enjoy these things are all gifts from God’s Hand. To be able to rightly and fully enjoy the things of this world is a gift of God’s grace. Chapter six begins by presenting the sickening tragedy of a man who has everything the world says that you need to be happy yet God does not give him the ability to enjoy it. And to make the situation worse, someone else – a mere stranger - enjoys them instead. God is the Giver of every good and perfect gift and He will not give us something that will drive us away from Him. He is well aware that there is no such thing as true happiness apart from Him and what He allows in each life is to point us back to Him – to His sufficiency and strength. God wants to expose our desperate need of Him and show us that anything or anyone else cannot be ultimate. When He disallows the ability to find satisfaction in things it is His goodness to us because nothing but God can ultimately satisfy the human heart. Nobody can truly enjoy the gifts of God apart from God Who gives the gifts. To desire the gifts without the Giver is merely idolatry which will always come up wanting.  

In the will of God there can be riches with enjoyment and labor with satisfaction but we must accept His plan for our lives, receive His gifts gratefully, and enjoy each day as He enables us.  In His presence is fullness of joy and at His right Hand are pleasures forevermore as King David writes in Psalms 16:11:
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalms 16:11 (NIV)

The ability to enjoy life comes from within – it is a matter of character and not circumstances and it is learned. Our strength to do this is from Jesus.  Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11:
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

The believer in sweet Jesus carries within us all the resources needed for both facing life courageously and triumphing over our difficulties. If we devote our lives to the pursuit of happiness, we will be miserable; however if we devote our lives to doing God’s will, we will find satisfaction, contentment and happiness as well. There will most assuredly be questions about life that will remain unanswered this side of heaven. But God is always good and we are always loved. Our ignorance must not be an excuse for skepticism or unbelief. Rather, it should encourage us to have faith in God. The believer does not live on explanations but rather on promises. God invites us to work with Him.  Remember, we are free to decide and choose but we are not free to change the consequences of our choices. If we choose a world of illusion, we start living on substitutes, and there can be no satisfaction in a world of substitutes. The will of God comes directly from the heart of God and is an expression of the love of God. Psalms 33:11 states:
11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalms 33:11 (NIV)

God knows what is good for us. He gives us enough information to encourage us, but He does not cater to idle curiosity. Death is a certainty of life unless Jesus returns and we are to be prepared, ready and waiting.  Life is God’s good gift to us, and we must accept what He gives us and enjoy it while we can. Jesus tells us in John 17:3:
3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 (NIV)

 These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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