READ: Ecclesiastes 1-2
THINK: Is this almost depressing, or what? Most believe that Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon at the end of his life. If so, it's easy to see how his experiences may have led him to pen these words. He'd been blessed with extraordinary wisdom as he followed God at the beginning of his reign. Yet in time, Solomon experienced a tragic spiritual decline as he got caught up in idol worship and materialism. In the end, a self-indulgent lifestyle likely left him empty and disillusioned. He had enjoyed everything life had to offer, but it brought no lasting satisfaction. This may explain the conclusion in Ecclesiastes that life without God is meaningless.
RESPOND: What's the overall theme of Ecclesiastes, and how does this relate to one's relationship with God? (See 1:2 note.) What seems to be the author's aim, and how does this relate to a worldview apart from God? (See 1:2 note, subpoint 1.) What's the solution to the hopelessness expressed in Ecclesiastes? (See 1:2 note, subpoint 2.) Why can't we look to nature to find ultimate purpose, meaning or destiny for our existence? (See 1:5-11 note.) What does it mean that "there is nothing new under the sun"? (See 1:9 note.) What kind of wisdom is futile for finding purpose or trying to fix the world's problems? (See 1:12-18 note.) Why do worldly pleasures prove to be empty or meaningless (2:1ff)? (See 2:1-11 note.) Why don't great accomplishments or vast possessions bring satisfaction (2:4-11)? How are wise people different from foolish ones, and what experiences do they have in common? (See 2:12-17 note.) How did the writer feel about all he had worked for, and why (2:18ff)? (See 2:18-23 note.) How can people find satisfaction in their work, and in what way is this a gift (2:24)? (See 2:24-26 note.) How can one's relationship with God affect his or her outlook on life, work and wisdom? (See 2:24-26 note, subpoint 2.)
PRAY: Give thanks that you don't have to view things from the hopeless perspective of life apart from Him. Pray that you'll never depend on pleasures or possessions to provide the purpose and fulfillment that only Jesus can.
ACT: View all your work and opportunities as gifts from God, and put forth your best effort. If you're relying on anything more than God for satisfaction, either get rid of the thing or put it in its proper place regarding your priorities.
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