Wisdom and Joy

Ecclesiastes 9-11

This is Holy Week, Palm Sunday to Easter, the week that separates Jesus Christ from all others, Christ-followers from every other religious group. As we share the Gospel with those we love, friends and family that we desperately want to see in the arms of Christ, I pray they will cheat death and enjoy eternity with those who accept Jesus:

For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even their name is forgotten.
Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 9:5-6

These particular verses, and the ones that follow, are rather blunt, unfiltered, even difficult to read. Verse 12 reminds us that “no one knows when their hour will come,” so we pray, earnest and with great haste. Yesterday was a full day of music, praise and worship for the one who defeated death once and for all. The lyrics washed over me again and again, tears seeping out as wave after wave of thoughts of those who I know have not accepted Christ, have not embraced grace so freely offered. I was reminded to pray for the lost, the ones who don’t even know they are lost, for loved ones and others I have yet to meet.

Wisdom, it seems, is at our fingertips, waiting to be grasped if we would but let go of vanity and selfish pride.

Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise,
and he saved the city by his wisdom.
But nobody remembered that poor man.
Ecclesiastes 9:15

No one remembered his name because, in my view, he was merely doing what he was called to do, his name was unimportant. Mother Teresa once said, “I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” This from a servant of God that gave her all for the least, the lost and the lonely. Amazing.

Perhaps too many times I think this should be my life verse:

If the ax is dull
and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
but skill will bring success.
Ecclesiastes 10:10

The way I read this is simple: I’m not very smart, but I will work harder than most until I succeed. It’s encouraging to read this proverb, especially with the work that is before me this week. Lord, I know my axe isn’t the sharpest, but give me strength and skill to pound through that which needs to be done for your glory!

Here’s a proverb I didn’t want to include, would just as soon erase it from my Bible and look the other way:

A feast is made for laughter,
wine makes life merry,
and money is the answer for everything.
Ecclesiastes 10:19

Really? Money is the answer for everything? Solomon’s words throughout Ecclesiastes are completely polar: good vs bad, right vs wrong, black or white, no in between. The wisdom of such is to stay out of the gray-zone, the land of indecisiveness. Just yesterday I said to Zoë, “I hate money,” and today I read this verse. Sigh.  Money is just a tool, love of money for the fool. It’s easy to think I have nothing when I look at bills and debt, but I know better. Forget the pity-party! This is just a season. It will pass. There are so many with so little and we have been blessed beyond comprehension. Lord, help me to be a better steward of the incredible wealth you have given me.

So we end with this benediction:

However many years anyone may live,
let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
for there will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.
You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.
So then, banish anxiety from your heart
and cast off the troubles of your body,
for youth and vigor are meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 11:8-10

Enjoy, be happy, banish anxiety, cast off the troubles for as the Message version puts it: “Youth lasts about as long as smoke.” This isn’t a call to be frivolous, but it is a reminder that we don’t know the number of our days and we should not be so self-absorbed that we miss the joy that God has in mind for us. Satan wins if we buy into the opposite argument. Three times we see the word heart in this paragraph. My earnest prayer is that God would change hearts, make them more attuned to His ways. Then we can fully live with joy.  Lord, change my heart and help me to enjoy the limited number of days you have given me. May I lift up those around me who are sad, whose face is downcast.

The Road to Emmaus

I can’t help but append this post with an epilogue, I guess it’s just the season that reminds me of this amazing story:

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
Luke 24:15-18

The risen Jesus Christ walked with them seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus…seven miles. The sad faces, the broken hearts of many are seen in these two as they cannot comprehend the impossibility that Jesus walks with them, that He is their resurrected savior. I completely understand them; I’m sure I would have done the same thing. I wish I had time this morning to unpack the whole Emmaus experience–powerful stuff!

Here’s the truth to be spoken over and over again:

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Do not let your faces be downcast! Let the joy of He that is far greater show in our faces this Easter season!

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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