1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years
2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).
Some other housecleaning:
A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.
B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.
C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.
D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.
As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.
Why do you work? Is it just to pay the bills? Is it just so you can maintain your standard of living? Is it just because you’d go stir-crazy just sitting around the house? I recently heard on the radio about a lottery winner who got the huge jackpot, and he reported that he was still planning to continue working at his old job, at least for now. He didn’t have to do it, but he wanted to. If you won the lottery (and I’m not advocating it for one second), would you still be doing what you do?
Regrettably, most people don’t find that much satisfaction in their work, at least judging by how much they constantly complain about it. Of course, there isn’t a job out there that doesn’t have any negatives to it—That’s why someone has to pay you to do it.
If there was any guy you’d think would be satisfied with his job, it’d be Solomon, right? I mean, his job is to be king. That means he sets his own hours, gets out of bed when he wants, and takes breaks when he wants. If there happen to be any unpleasant parts of his job (which would be rare), he can always delegate!
But no. If you read today’s passage, his despair is about as subtle as a brick upside the head. He'd accomplished more than most anyone would dream of doing, and he still found it empty. There are two reasons listed here, and both of them merit consideration.
First, he saw the fragility of everything he had built. Not so much the physical weakness of the buildings he had constructed, or the possibility of losing his wealth. What about the next generation? He'd worked hard for what he'd accomplished. His son would have it all handed down to him. Would he take hold of the heritage given to him, or would he squander it? Would he throw it all away?
By the way, his fears turned out to be well-founded. If you’ve read 1 Kings, then you know what happened after Solomon passed on. His son Rehoboam turned against his father’s advisers and ended up losing half the kingdom. You can read the sordid story here if you’d like.
But there was something else, a much deeper problem. In fact, this goes to the heart of the entire book of Ecclesiastes. It’s not that work in itself is bad or useless. We were created to be creative. It’s part of the image of God with which he stamped us. But we need to acknowledge him in all we do, just like Solomon himself told us earlier in Proverbs. Put the Lord at the center of everything. Paul also told us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” If you do that, then you’ll find meaning and purpose in whatever you do. If you happen to be a janitor, and that’s what God has called you to be (for now), then you can find fulfillment in that. If he's not the center of it, then you'll find nothing but despair in the end, even if you're the king of the world.
And here’s a final word for those who are worried about the first issue. Maybe you’re worried about the next generation. Will they appreciate the hard work that it took to give them the inheritance they have? Well, maybe and maybe not. But I do know this. You can give your children an inheritance which is worth much more than all the money and land in the world. This is something that Solomon didn’t give his children. You can give them an example of a godly parent, a parent who does things God’s way. A parent who reads God’s word and takes it seriously. A parent who has a biblical attitude towards possessions. If you succeed in that, then whatever else you give them will be icing on the cake, and they’ll be less likely to squander whatever else they inherit from you.
Father God, whatever task you put in front of me, no matter how small it looks, is the most important thing I can do. Whenever the next generation looks at me, let me point them towards you, not away. Please.
I would submit that Western culture has got to be the most sex-obsessed since ancient Rome. I won’t go into details, since this is a PG devotional, but you know what I’m referring to. Billboards, TV, movies, popular music, and especially the internet have all fed this. But there’s a major problem with it, which is even worse than the depictions themselves: They don’t show the end result.
Some people, even nonbelievers, are starting to recognize why this is bad. They want us to turn away from the more animalistic desires to the more refined ones. They’re still hedonists, in a way, but their pleasures are more geared to the spiritual side of humanity. They take gratification in the arts, in human creativity, in philosophy, in great works of literature, etc.
The interesting thing is that today’s passage actually speaks to both avenues of approach. First for the physical side. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. If he had sex with a different woman every night, then he wouldn’t have to repeat himself for over three years. He lived a life that many, if not most, men fantasize about. And if he wanted more, who'd ever stop him? If he showed any restraint at all, it certainly wasn’t due to peer pressure from surrounding nations: It was the norm for a king, when he saw someone or something he wanted, to just take it. It’s a life that Hugh Hefner could only dream of.
But his pursuits, despite what some other men might choose, weren’t just in the physical realm. He indulged his creativity, designing and building grand houses and gardens and parks. He constructed the temple of God, taking six years, and his own palace, which took thirteen. He bought slaves and flocks. He accumulated gold and silver, making himself the richest man in the world at that time.
And just in case we missed the point, here it is: “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.” He even had the pleasure of seeing his projects successfully finished—he “took delight” in all his work.
And after all those years of having sex with multiple women, with indulging his creative side, with seeing the completion of all his work, at the end of his life, how did he summarize it all? “Meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” He said that “nothing was gained,” so it was all a waste of time.
But what’s the point here? Is God anti-pleasure? Of course not. He’s all in favor of it. And I’m not just talking about the spiritual side of things. He also created physical pleasure. Who do you think created sex? Who do you think designed the pleasure sensors on your tongue, so you can tell the difference between sweet and bland? Who do you think gave us the desire and ability to create and design works of art, such as architecture?
But to pursue those things, like Solomon did, is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. If you let the Lord guide you through life, you’ll be amazed at how many pleasures there are out there. Too bad Solomon didn’t listen to his father David. Psalm 16 tells us “[he] will fill me with joy in [his] presence, with eternal pleasures at [his] right hand.” He really is the source of all lasting pleasure. Just trust him, and do things his way, and you can’t go wrong.
Father, even after all these years of knowing you, I still hear the siren's call. Your way is best. I know it, and I’ve seen it. Help me to trust you, please.