Tag Archives: eternity

Freedom

memorial-day-354082_960_720As Veteran’s Day approaches I am reminded freedom comes at great cost.  American soldiers paid a price, often with life or limbs, to preserve our freedom.  May God bless our service men and women as they serve our country.

Just as soldiers paid a price for our physical freedom, one solitary person paid the ultimate price for our spiritual freedom.  Jesus died in our stead so we could be free from the bondage of sin which leads to physical death.   Death is not the end for those who believe in Him.  They will experience eternal life on the other side of death.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT

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Will there be dogs in heaven?

Will there be dogs in heaven?  That’s a million dollar question argued by many intellectuals.  If dogs have a spirit, which I believe they do, then that spirit will need a place to spend eternity.  What a better locale to spend it in than a place devoid of evil, hatred and loss.

Dogs of our time work tirelessly to make our world a better place.  Perhaps this is what inspired Will Rodgers to utter these words.

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The Search for the Meaning of Life

Here is the text of a message I gave today.  How many of you have heard of King Solomon of the Bible? Today I want to talk about Solomon’s search for the true meaning of life.

If you have your Bibles, turn with me to the book of Ecclesiastes. One of the three books in the Bible attributed to Solomon. We know from the book of Proverbs that Solomon was a very wise man with a wealth of practical knowledge. Ecclesiastes, however, shows us a different side of King Solomon. Solomon is said to have written Ecclesiastes as he neared the end of his days. If we had the time to explore the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes it would seem that Solomon spent his whole life searching for that great something that could give life lasting meaning. This aging king is getting restless.

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Ecclesiastes 1:2 states, “Vanity, vanity all is vanity.” Has anyone here heard this expression before? Solomon’s words highlight the brevity of human life in the grand scheme of the universe. Life is but a breath, a vapor, or as one person put it, vanity is like a beautiful soap bubble that appears, floats momentarily and vanishes quickly.

Ecclesiastes 1:3, “What advantage does a man have in all his work which he does under the sun?” Solomon goes on to tell us in the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes how he spent his whole life gathering riches, believing that it would bring him lasting happiness and contentment. Instead, he found it wasn’t the answer. Then, he took his great wealth and poured it into massive building projects. He spent more of it on extravagant entertainment and objects of pleasure, yet, nothing he pursued gave him the lasting satisfaction or fulfillment he so desperately sought. He turned to knowledge and tried to reason his way out of the problem.

In Ecclesiastes 2:17 we read, “So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after the wind.” Do you find yourself at times hating life?

In my own life I worked for a company for more than 30 years. I believed if I could dedicate myself to my job that it would give me everything in life I needed. I was willing to donate my entire life to it. When the company began to fail and people were laid off, salaries were cut, and prospects for advancement evaporated, I found myself trapped. I suddenly found myself hating and suddenly started worrying about what I would do for a job when this one failed. My career felt futile and striving after the wind.

Solomon, one of the wisest men of his day could not figure out the true meaning of life. I should point out that we encounter the phrase “under the sun” many times in Ecclesiastes. From what I’ve studied it appears to mean anything we do in life as human beings apart from God.

Follow along as I read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

watches-1204696_960_720These verses offer a good cross-section of life. Life holds good times and bad times. We don’t whine or complain about the good times, but no one wants to find him or herself in a bad season of life. Every aspect of life occurs under the watchful eye of heaven.

Solomon believes the events in our lives are governed by a set time and perhaps more importantly, a purpose. He sees that there is something at work in the world and in his life over which he has no control over. Nothing happens around him by chance, or “just because. ” The writer of Ecclesiastes is saying that all of life, your life, my life, is part of a grand design and guided by divine providence. “To everything there is a time or a season under heaven.”

What season are you in in your life?  Whatever season you are in, good or bad, there are two things I want you to know:

First, you are not alone. If you know God, Romans 8:35-39 concludes that nothing in the universe can separate us from God’s love. If you don’t have a relationship with God, John 3:16 tells us just how much God loves every person. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not parish but have eternal life.” God sent Jesus Christ to make it possible for sinners to find God and have a relationship with him.  You are not alone.

The second thing you need to know is that whatever season you find yourself in God knows (and cares) about the things you are dealing with. Any trouble you may be experiencing, any doubts, fears, pain, or heartache did not just happen by chance. God has a plan and a purpose for every person. We may not like the season of life we are in but God is right there with you. In the words of Moses found in Deuteronomy 31:6, “God will not leave you or forsake you.” And “if God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

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Getting back to our text, Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything appropriate in its time, He also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from beginning to end.” Putting eternity in our hearts is God’s call for us to seek him out. He wants us to know that this flawed physical world in which we live is not his final solution. Solomon reminds us that all of life can’t be explained. There will be things that happen in this life that we won’t understand until we reach the eternal shores of heaven.

So what about Solomon’s search for the true meaning of life? Solomon is telling us in the book of Ecclesiastes, “Listen to me! I’ve tried everything!” Searching for happiness apart from God is pointless (vanity, vanity, all is vanity). Dr. David Jeremiah put it this way; you won’t find eternal satisfaction in temporary, worldly things.

Solomon is imploring us instead of searching for the meaning of life, to search out the One who gives life it’s meaning. Let me say that again, instead of wasting your life searching for the meaning of life, search out the One who gives life it’s meaning. Once we have found God who gives life meaning, we may not understand everything that is happening to us and around us but we know whatever it is God loves us and its for God’s greater good and His glory. In God we can find peace.

In Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 Solomon has this to say about life if we are aligned with the One who gives life it’s meaning.  “I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God.” ASV

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 6:33, don’t worry about having enough stuff like food and clothes. Your heavenly father knows perfectly well that you need these things. God will give you these gifts if you give him first place in your life and live, as he wants you to live.

May God bless you and may you experience God’s peace in your life. He is the One who gives life it’s meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

The Waiting Game

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As a dog owner, I am well aware of how short a canine’s life span is.  I have buried two dear creatures.  No matter how few their years, dogs are fully devoted to their masters and will spend countless hours waiting for a chance to be with them, even if its just for a moment. One of the many reasons they are deemed man’s best friend.

As a person, I am also aware of how short life can be.  Both my parents died prematurely.  I take solace in the fact that they now enjoy a new life together in eternity. One cannot consider eternity, however, without taking into account the One being who created and inhabits it.  The eternity we are all headed for will either be spent in the Creator’s presence or apart from him.  If I desire to be with God it would behoove me to get to know him, spend time with him, and wait upon him for guidance.

For since the world began,
no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
who works for those who wait for him!

Isaiah 64:4 NLT

Summing up Ecclesiastes

In this last post on Ecclesiastes I thought it would be helpful to try to write a summary of my experience with the book.

sunrise-1756274_960_720We, like Solomon, face a dilemma. Earth, within the boundaries of our universe, continues on endlessly. We, on the other hand, are transient creatures; our lives are but a vapor, a breath in the grand scheme of things. Life “under the sun” (the human condition without God) seemed meaningless to Solomon because no matter what avenue he pursued, nothing gave him an advantage over the certainty of death. As he considers human mortality, he acknowledges the prospect of eternity, a thought placed in his heart by God. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

It is the intent of the writer of Ecclesiastes to take us by the hand and pull us to the edge of that abyss we call death. Solomon knew that by having us stand there at the brink, we would conclude that our life experiences alone leave us unprepared to face death. As we stand there, uncomfortable with the thought of our own demise, we are admonished to order our lives presently (today).

bubbles-1038648_960_720How will you respond to the message of Ecclesiastes, “vanity of vanities, everything is vanity” (life is a vapor, a breath) as we toil “under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2,3) Will you, like the fool reject the message and ignore the signposts pointing towards death and judgment?

“The fool has said in his heart there is no God…” Psalm 14:1.

OR, will you be counted among the wise and take the message to heart. Will you remember God (Ecclesiastes 12:1), fear Him and keep his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13)? A wise person remembers God by noticing his handiwork all around them and acknowledging that work at every opportunity. He or she will thank God continually for the blessings given to them.

To those who heed the message of Ecclesiastes, “eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do” (Ecclesiastes 9:7).  Remember Him always.

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God Orders Time

In Ecclesiastes chapters one and two Solomon wrote about the life he experienced under the sun (life from a human perspective).   Through the lens of “death is certain,” he saw the futility of striving to possess the world only to lose it. Chapter three of Ecclesiastes challenges the monotony he experienced.

Warren Wiersbe opens his commentary on Ecclesiastes chapter 3 this way: insects have lifecycles, but humans have histories. A bee is pretty much like another bee but each person is unique. If people are not unique, then they are not important. If people are not important, then life has no meaning and isn’t worth living.

Wiersbe divides chapter three into three sections:

  • Life above man – Eccl. 3:1-8 (God orders the time and seasons)
  • Life within man – Eccl. 3:9-14 (God put eternity in the heart of man)
  • Life ahead of man – Eccl. 3:15-22 (Death is certain)

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Life above man:

Imagine for a moment that there were no natural laws governing our universe. Life would certainly be chaotic. Take gravity for example, what if it was a variable and not constant. What if the total number of hours in each day fluctuated wildly from day to day?  What if there were no seasons?  On and on I could go.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is one of the more famous passages in the Bible.  These verses are a description of how beautify and magnificently God has ordered time. Solomon uses 14 poetic statements to convey how God is at work in the life of the individual.

Birth, death – these aren’t accidents, they are divinely ordered.

Planting and plucking – a successful farmer works with nature not against it.

Killing and healing – could be referring to sickness and plagues. Why one person dies and another lives is one of those unanswerable questions that must be left to divine providence

Casting away stones and gathering them – stones had to be cast out of a field before plowing, stones needed to be gathered for building or to be used to destroy someone else’s property

Embrace and refrain – many possible meanings, including Hebrew inference to sexual embrace. Another suggested meaning, a time to say hello and a time to say goodbye.

Getting and losing – possible meaning a time to search and a time to cease searching.

Tearing and mending – tearing of clothing is a Jewish expression signifying grief or mourning.

Loving and hating – a reference to national war and peace? Another possible meaning in a different context involves loving the sinner and hating the sin.

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Life within man:

  • A person’s life is a gift from God (v10) – if we believe life is a gift we will have a better attitude towards burdens we are sometimes forced to carry.
  • Consider two scriptures – Genesis 42:36 “All these things are against me.” And Romans 8:28 “ALL things work together for good.” We must choose our perspective
  • Man’s life is linked to eternity (v11) – we can’t be fully satisfied with achievements or accomplishments until we understand that God has a complete plan for us. This plan spans eternity. Another way to look at it, “we will always have a longing inside for something more than what we have experienced until we know God” (Dr. David Jeremiah)
  • I can enjoy life now (v12-14) – Life may be transitory but whatever God does lasts for eternity. Be thankful for what we have and enjoy it.
  • Remember: faith is only as good as the object of our faith. The greatest object of faith is God. If we fear (revere) God we need not fear anything else.

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Life ahead of man:

God seeks what is passed by (v15). Chuck Swindoll suggests that when we pass by things, or walk away from what God wants us to learn, God will keep bringing us back again and again until he has broken through to us.

Solomon observed injustice and oppression. He concluded that if there was a time and a season for everything under the sun, then it stands to reason that will have a time for future judgment.

Two of life’s biggest perplexities: why do bad things happen to good people? And why do the wicked seem to prosper or go unpunished? Evangelist Vance Havner suggests this explanation: “God writes over some of our days: “will explain later!””

Verses 18 through 20 are difficult and confusing. They seem to address the certainty of death for all creatures.  Dr. Jeremiah offers this explanation: A man and his dog romp in the same field, breathe the same air, and die on the same acre. They are more alike physically than they are different (considering just their physical bodies).

“Who knows” (can be worded “is it possible”) that a man’s spirit ascends to God while the animal’s spirit returns to the earth (see Ecclesiastes 12:7). The uncertainty lies with the destiny of the animal’s spirit.

So I saw that there was nothing better for men that they should be happy in their work, for that is what they are here for…  Ecclesiastes 3:22a NLT