Faith, Reviews

Bible Book Review: January – Ecclesiastes

“True satisfaction with yourself comes from knowing that what you are doing is part of God’s purpose for your life.”

I made a goal this New Year.  My goal was to read the whole bible, front to back, start to finish, by the end of 2018.  With how much God has moved my life during 2017, and how much I grew to love being in His Word, I thought there wasn’t a better way to get to know Him more than to read the whole Bible.  It felt like it was the next step to take in my faith journey.  However, as I began to do that, I realized that’s still not a place I am currently at.  Although I do want to read the whole Bible front to back one day, I’m still in a “getting to know Him more” stage.  It did not seem like reading it start to finish was going to satisfy my spiritual hunger as I might not get as much out of it.  I might be rushed.  Therefore, I resorted to google (shocker), in hopes of possibly finding a great book, Bible study, devotional, something.  And then I ran into this awesome website, which sparked a great idea.

This person’s blog gave a one-word themes to each book of the Bible so Christians, like myself, would have an easier time deciding where to “dive in” when they felt certain things on their heart.  I instantly went to find the one-word them for Ecclesiastes because in contains  my all time favorite verse. I fell in love with “theme”  word for Ecclesiastes which is  “timing”.  Right away, I wanted to read more.  To understand the Lord’s timing in our lives is crucial, I mean after all, that’s I why Ecclesiastes 3:11 is my favorite verse of all time.  I have it written in my room, plastered all over the homepage of The Soulful Ways, and as my phone background.  It is a verse I have learned to live my life by this past year, which is why I decided to dive into that book of the Bible first, the one that I have so graciously based my life off.

Based on that, I decided to ditch reading the whole Bible in 2018, and came up with a new plan of my own.  I decided that instead of reading the whole Bible, I am going to pick a book in the Bible each month to read fully and “meditate” in that book for the whole month.  I figured by picking just one book to focus on, I can really absorb the major concepts, learn more about my Lord, and not be so overwhelmed.  I can really take my time getting to know other aspects of my Savior, and actually savor it, not just remember it for one day and then forget, which happens too frequently in our culture.

Therefore, the first of each month, my blog post will be an overview of what I learned in the book of meditation for that previous month.  I will give main takeaways from each chapter in the book, my favorite verse from each chapter in the book, and an overall “conclusion” of what that book meant to me.  So here is my first “Bible book review” of 2018.  Ecclesiastes is, and always will be, my favorite book in the whole Bible.  I hope after reading this “review” you might begin to see why.

 

Chapter 1 – without the Lord, life is meaningless.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 = 1:13-15 “I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened;  what is lacking cannot be counted.

Wisdom only comes from knowing God, and pursuing life based on His purpose for you.  If He is not at the core of what you are doing, it is meaningless.  Seek fulfillment in God alone to truly live at your fullest.

Chapter 2 – self pleasure is temporary.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 2 = 2:25-26 “…for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?  To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind”.

Pursuing pleasure for your own matters will leave you feeling empty.  If you want to feel accomplished and full of purpose, focus on experiencing life solely to serve God, serve others, and advance His Kingdom.  All of your work should solely be to glorify Him.  And if you glorify Him, you will never feel sour, or unworthy, because the Lord is where all of your self-worth comes from.

Chapter 3 – proper timing with the Lord.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 = 3:11-12 “He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”

Trusting His timing will show you that “the purpose” for each season can be both appreciated and put to use.  Whether the season you are enduring is bad, painful, joyous, or at a standstill, there is always something to thank Him for.  Begin to focus on life through God’s eyes, not your own, and fully commit to trusting the work He has set out for you.

Chapter 4 – toil (work) is meaningless, friendship is forever.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 = 4:9-12 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls down and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Always work in moderation.  A life solely based on work that rewards yourself is meaningless.  Instead… focus on building companionship with others and praising God for your rewards within your toil.  Seek His approvals in all that you do.  His love and peace that He so mercifully gives will not change, while your “self-work” will.

Chapter 5 – fulfill your vow and be content.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 5 = 5:1-2 “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 what they do wrong.  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.”

When you come to the Lord, be open and be ready to listen.  He does have a plan, and it is a plan with endless happiness.  It is a plan that is full of meaning.  Always follow through with His promises, and always follow through with the promises you make to Him as well.  Learn to be content with what He is providing you currently, and view everything as a gift.  This is the only way to true happiness and to satisfy His life plan for you.

Chapter 6 – having the right attitude towards God.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 6 = 6:8-10 “What advantage have the wise over the fools?  What do the poor gain by knowing how to conduct themselves before others?  Better what the eyes see than the roving of the appetite.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  Whatever exists has already been names, and what humanity is has been known: no one can contend with someone who is stronger.”

Everyday has its own value.  Everyday has its own purpose.  Focus on each day with God by your side, and you will see all of your hard work, effort, and obedience pay off.   As followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot just look at the future, but rather take each day one step at a time with the Lord.  

Chapter 7 – the Lord’s wisdom is within us.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 = 7:14 “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.  Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. “

We must learn that both our wisdom and our knowledge come from the Lord.  If we try to search for purpose in our lives alone, we will never find out the goodness in the Lord’s unknown.  Today, start trusting that God has a personalized plan for your life, and it will bring you wisdom.  Have patience.  God is not done!

Chapter 8 – obeying the King = joy + content-feelings + wisdom

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 8 = 8:5-6 “Whoever obeys His command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.  For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery.”

Wisdom is the ability to see life from God’s divine perspective.  And… we can gain this quality simply by fearing, respecting, and honoring the Lord in everything He blesses us with.  Try to get to know God, understand His way, and see the beauty in His uncertainty.  Begin to enjoy what He has already given you. You will find a refreshing perspective that is filled with being both joyful and content.  

Chapter 9 – living in an imperfect world.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 9 = 9:18 “Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.”

Our earthly world is so imperfect, but that does not mean our perspective has to be.  Remember; 1) the future is uncertain, 2) eternal life starts now, 3) dedication should be apparent in all you do, and 4) in order to enjoy the gifts of God now, you must put away your pride and perspective to be receptive to His wisdom.  These statements are the 4 keys to happiness in an imperfect world.

Chapter 10 – spiritually rich vs. spiritually bankrupt.  

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 10 = 10:4 “If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your pot, calmness can lay great offenses to rest.”

Anything we have that is not from the Lord is worth nothing.  Do not solely put your worth or your purpose in things that do not have God at the center, as they are meaningless and will not help you gain anything worthwhile.  Instead… remember that both obedience and hard work with God at your side make for a spiritually rich life, never lacking anything.  

Chapter 11 – facing life with a God-directed enthusiasm.

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 11 = 11:9-10 “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.”

Be prepared.  Risk and opportunity are two things that we cannot run from in life.  However, facing all risk and opportunity with a “God-directed” attitude will wipe out the despair and uncertainty, and replace that with adventure, enthusiasm, and faith.  DO NOT WAIT.  Conditions for spiritual growth are not always going to be perfect.  Take the steps NOW to grow, and be as active as possible in every season.  Rejoice everyday.  Eternity is much longer than a person’s life span on this earth, therefore, keep the “long-range” view of Heaven in mind always.  Remember that in everything that you do, day-in and day-out.  Enjoy life now.  The choices you’ve made previously are irreversible. However, you cannot dwell, because it is done.  Therefore, always make Godly choices, with the Lord at the center of your decisions.  This way you will always be fully present in all that you do without guilt, because you are sticking by the Lord.

Chapter 12 – start seeking God now!

Favorite Verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 12 = 12:13-14 “…Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

The sole purpose of this life on earth is to always be moving in the direction of our Lord.  Keep seeking Him.  Keep trying to get to know Him better.  And always make Him your source of your strength.  He is always readily available to be used in your life, so why not reciprocate that back?  Be available to Him so He can use you for glory!

Book of Ecclesiastes Conclusion: Start moving in the Lord’s direction now.  There is never a wrong time to start seeking God, and when you do, you will realize life without the Lord is meaningless.  If you learn to keep His Word close, and His presence center in all that you do, joy will start to take over your life!

Remember, the Lord will make everything beautiful in its time.  All you have to do is be fully present with Him, and constantly moving in His direction.  Everything will then begin to make sense.

With all that I am,

Nicole

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