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Enjoy your life-- God's way
Lessons from the book of Ecclesiastes

Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 1-2:11

Today we are beginning a 3 week series in the book of Ecclesiastes

Some introductory thoughts

-Ecclesiastes is a purposefully perplexing book.
-Some consider Ecclesiastes to be the most depressing book in the whole Bible.
-Ecclesiastes begins in a most controversial way, with Solomon declaring that everything is meaningless and empty (16 times). This is his thesis. Not only does Solomon begin the book by declaring that everything is meaningless and empty, he then proceeds with great passion and length to argue the case (ch 1-6 and beyond). To this we must ask why?
-The teachings of Solomon in Ecclesiastes don't resolve tension, rather, Solomon purposefully creates tension. This is because he wants us to think hard
-Pessimists and skeptics gravitate towards the book of Ecclesiastes because they mistakenly think it supports their beliefs. In the end, Ecclesiastes is designed to draw such people in, that they might be led to faith, service, and trust in God.
-There is a danger in reading the book of Ecclesiastes. The danger is this, if you don't follow the threads of thought your theology is in danger of getting messed up. Hence, Ecclesiastes requires diligence in study and thought.
-Ecclesiastes is a book of Wisdom. In the latter part of the book it is filled with weighty teachings that demand our attention
-The tone of Ecclesiastes changes as the book progresses. As one moves past the halfway mark the book becomes more and more instructive and to a degree, less controversial. A good question to ask is why?
-Repetitive phrases in the book of Ecclesiastes include "Meaningless/vanity" 16 times, "A chasing after the wind" 9 times, "under the sun" 27 times.
-Big themes and subjects that are considered in Ecclesiastes include: the meaning and purpose of life, what makes life empty, God and how to relate to Him, death, the day of accountability that is to come, the enjoyment of life, the beauty, value, desirability, and limitations of wisdom.


Further thoughts

1. The declaration that life is meaningless is intended to motivate the hearer to pursue the question and ultimately the meaning of life. One is not meant to merely agree with Solomon's assertion- for in the end, that's not his conclusion

2. Ecclesiastes illustrates that life is not neat. There are no easy answers to the questions of life. Life is complex and messy. From this side of Heaven, to understand all the purposes and ways of God is beyond us. The events of life raise for us a lot questions that are hard to answer (and even when we are provided with the answers, as the Bible does for us, we don't always like them).

3. As perplexing, controversial, and contrary as the book of Ecclesiastes is, the call to trust God never goes away and in fact intensifies as the book progresses.

4. As with the book of Proverbs, the call of Ecclesiastes is the fear God. Ecclesiastes 12:13


ENJOY YOUR LIFE-- GOD'S WAY

Today I want to focus on the call of the book of Ecclesiastes to enjoy your life.

Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants to be happy but not everyone is. Some people try to make themselves happy but in the end they end up very sad.

I wonder if you knew that the Bible call us to enjoy life! Life is meant to be enjoyed

As we will discover together, Solomon charges us to enjoy our lives, our youth, our spouses (if married), our food and drink, our possessions.


Contrary to what some think, one can live for God and enjoy their life at the same time. Serving God and joy are not incompatible. The fact is, the perfect enjoyment of life has everything to do with God- for the Bible teaches us that to live life God's way will bring joy and satisfaction.

Scriptures on the enjoyment of life in the book of Ecclesiastes

Note: Most of them related to work, food, and drink. Many come with a sharp caveat.

Ecclesiastes 2:10 "My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor." Yet note the contrarian note of Solomon in v.11

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25a "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, without him, who can eat or find enjoyment."

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 "I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live." That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil- this is the gift of God."

Ecclesiastes 3:22. Following talking about the inevitability of death, Solomon says; "So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because this is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?"

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20. After speaking about people who hoard their wealth and then can't take it with them after they die, Solomon says "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. 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 from God. Such a man seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. And yet also note the contrarian position of 6:1-3 **

Ecclesiastes 8:15. After speaking of how the wicked and the righteous get the opposite of what they deserve, Solomon says; "So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun."

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10, after contemplating that death comes to us all, says; "Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your win with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun- all your meaningless days.

Ecclesiastes 11:8-9, being a part of a series of proverbs says; "However many hears a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless. Be happy, young man, 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 to judgment." Then note the return of pessimism in Ecclesiastes 12:1.


Some tips as it regards the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of our lives

1. Work is meant to be enjoyed. If you don't enjoy your work, get a job you like.

2. Enjoyment of life is a gift from God. The key to truly enjoying life has everything to do with God

3. Enjoy your life, but not at the expense of others or at the expense of living by God's principles

4. Enjoy life but understand that we must do so responsibly and morally because God holds us accountable for how we live and conduct ourselves.

5. Honor God in the process of enjoying life. Enjoy life by God's prescriptions

6. If you are young, enjoy your youth and the benefits of having a young body that can do all sorts of things (hiking, biking, travelling, swimming, etc)

7. Enjoying life is not just about enjoying things. It's about people. It's an attitude of the heart. It's about how we use our time and what our pursuits are.

8. Don't save the enjoying of your life to holidays or retirement. You don't know what the future holds.

9. When watch out what the shortcuts and the Devil's temptations. Temporary joys that bring lifetime of sorrow are his speciality

10. There is a mystery to joy

11. The greatest joy is found in Christ and the forgiveness of sins



If you are not enjoying life: examine your life. Is it motivated by greed and selfishness? Have you fallen for Satan's traps i.e sex before and outside of marriage, power, influence, money, the pursuit of things for the sake of things

CONCLUSION

One of the messages of the book of Ecclesiastes is this: Enjoy your life!

One of the greatest joys there is, is not directly mentioned in the book of Ecclesiastes. It's the joy of the forgiveness of your sins and peace with God.

True and lasting joy is found in Christ, in the forgiveness of sins, and peace with God.

Are you right with God by his way and his terms? The only way is through the confession of our sin, repentance, and faith in Christ as the only Savior and Lord. As Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me."

This reminds of a song I learned as a child: Happiness is the Lord.

Happiness is to know the Savior. Living a life within his favor.
Having a change in my behavior. Happiness is the Lord.
Happiness is a new creation, Jesus and me in close relation
Having a part in His salvation. Happiness is the Lord
Real joy is mine, no matter if the tear drops start
I've found the secret. It's Jesus in my heart
Happiness is to be forgiven, Living a life that's worth the livin'
Taking a trip that leads to heaven. Happiness is the Lord.


Pursue happiness. Enjoy your life. Recognize that the greatest joy their is, is to know and be right with God.