Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Never Give Up!

Have you ever wondered what on earth your purpose is?  Ever wonder "what's the point?"  You look around at your life and the lives of those around you and you see good people being hurt and bad people being lifted up.  Maybe you have worked your way to the top, only to realize you lost everything dear to you along the way.  Maybe you're struggling to make ends meet, working 3 jobs, while others flaunt brand new cars and huge houses that were practically handed to them.  Where have you tried to find fulfillment?  Your job?  Marriage?  Motherhood?  Maybe you're searching for happiness in places you know you shouldn't be.  Have you already called it quits?  Given up?  "Life's just too hard, it doesn't make sense, I don't know why I even try!"  "My marriage is falling apart."  "I have a ton of money and stuff, but I'm still not satisfied."  "I serve on 15 ministry teams and still feel depressed and far from God."  "I just don't understand God's Word, what it means, or how on earth I can apply it to my own life."  Maybe these quotes speak to where you are.

Did you know that the wisest man who ever lived had these same questions?  The book of Ecclesiastes is a journal from King Solomon during what seems like the darkest times in his life.  A close look at this book will show you a man who has tried it all, has it all, done it all, and still isn't satisfied.  He goes back and forth with sharing his struggles and pointing us to God's wisdom on how to get through some of these struggles.  After 12 chapters of this extremely transparent confession from the King of Israel, he sums it all up in Ecclesiastes 12:13.  "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all."  To fear God means that you live with the constant awareness that He is present, right there with you all the time.  He is in complete control and you live your life in a way that trusts in His control and not your own.  One who fears God understands the sovereignty of God and makes decisions based on the character of God and not on the character of herself.  Regardless of how we feel, regardless of what trials (or nightmares) are going on in our life, regardless of how empty and futile life seems, God is still God.  God loves you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)  He created you with His own hands and in His own image. (Ps 139:14; Gen 1:27)  He has a plan and a purpose for your life.(Jer 29:11)  As long as you have breath, you have a unique and significant purpose on this earth.  Don't ever forget that!  You will need to remind yourself of that on those darkest of days.

You might be interested to know what came of Solomon after this depressing episode of searching.  Before we go there, let me ask you.... where are you at?  Are you just beginning down this path of discouragement?  Have you been in the thick of frustration over life for years?  Are you still searching or are you ready to call it quits?  Let me encourage you with something very important to me.  King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, struggled just like you and me.  He seemed ready to throw in the towel many times throughout the book of Ecclesiastes.  But look at Ecclesiastes 9:1 - Solomon took the time in the midst of his discouragement to consider and ponder the work of God and the things of life.  He took the time to keep searching for answers.  Then, Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 says that "because he was wise, he still taught the people knowledge and... he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs.  The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright - words of truth."  Just think, what if Solomon gave up?  Isn't it awesome to know that God can bring about such change and fulfillment in our lives when we just remain faithful, even when we question life?  Don't ever give up and don't ever stop studying God's Word.  When you study God's word, you are studying about Jesus Christ.  He is the single theme, woven throughout the Bible from cover to cover.  He is the only one who can give purpose and meaning to your life, no matter how discouraged you may be.  Keep studying, keep learning, keep searching.  Never Give Up!!

Just a few of my favorite Proverbs put together by Solomon in the wake of Ecclesiastes:    

3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

4:13-14 "Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil."

11:2 "When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom."

11:22 "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion."

12:25 "Anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad."

14:1 "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."

16:7 "When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."

18:24 "A man who has friends must himself be friendly. but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

20:11 "Even a child is known for his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right."

23:9  "Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words."

31:30  "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised"

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