READ: Ecclesiastes 9-12
THINK: Is life really meaningless? Of course not. God wants us to enjoy life and make the most of it-especially with the energy and enthusiasm of youth. At the same time, however, we must keep in mind that life's purpose is not about having "fun" and doing whatever we feel like. We must not allow our lives to become a superficial pursuit of fun and entertainment-particularly regarding things that don't please God or promote His purposes. God will judge those who spend their lives on things that don't matter. The author of Ecclesiastes made it clear what matters most in life: Instead of following temporary, meaningless things, focus your life on knowing and obeying God.
RESPOND: Why does the author have such a cynical view of death? (See 9:2 note.) What does it meant that "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might"? (See 9:10 note.) How can a little indiscretion ruin the positive effects of wisdom (10:1)? (See 10:1 note.) What do wise people take into account when making decisions or taking on projects, and how does this affect their efforts? (See 10:8-10 note.) What are the implications of the verse, "Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again" (11:1), and what's the general principle behind this? (See 11:1 note.) Though people are often encouraged to "follow your heart," what must we keep in mind about our choices in life (11:9)? (See 11:9 note.) Why should you "remember your Creator in the days of your youth" (12:1)? (See 12:1-7 note.) What does the descriptive word picture in 12:3-7 represent? (See 12:1-7 note.) What conclusion does the author reach regarding "the whole duty of man"? (See 12:13 note.) In what way does this conclusion tell us where and how to find hope? What does the concluding statement of Ecclesiastes remind us about our ultimate accountability? (See 12:14 note.)
PRAY: Pray that you won't undermine godly wisdom by behaving foolishly or without discretion. Ask God to help you direct your energies toward His purposes and to help you stay mindful of your accountability to Him.
ACT: Whatever work, projects or responsibilities you undertake today, do your very best, just as if you're doing it all directly for the Lord. Be generous with words of encouragement and acts of kindness toward others.
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