January, February, March 2007

Want to learn more about Ecclesiastes? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: The Rise and Fall of the House of Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1)
This week we begin the study of a new book of the Bible - Ecclesiastes! I am excited to be studying this book because it has so much practical and interesting advice for us. We realize that the Bible teaches us in different ways. Sometimes it lays before us the errors of others - not to give us an example, but rather to give us an illustration of what not to do. Other times, the Bible gives us direct advice on how to live. Our challenge in Ecclesiastes will be to separate what the Holy Spirit led Solomon, who had one of the greatest minds, to record as the depressed thoughts of a man who realizes that he has wasted part of his "God-potential," from those thoughts inspired to give us direct, positive advice for living. Let's jump right in!

Lesson 2: Nothing New Under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 1)
My boss for the last 30 years continues to work even though he is over 80. I am confident he does not work because he loves or needs money. Instead, he works because that is his preference. Have you ever considered what activities in your life give you the most joy? For some time now, I have been giving thought to this and considering whether the choice my boss made is the right choice for me. One of the things that gives me the most joy is making a difference, being meaningful to others. Solomon wants to convince us that nothing in life is meaningful. Is he right or is he depressed? Let's dive into our study and decide!

Lesson 3: "All That My Eyes Desired" (Ecclesiastes 2)
Can you remember a time when you said to yourself, "I just want to have some fun?" If so, how did you go about finding fun? If you did not have fun, do you think being the richest fellow around would make having fun a little easier? What if you could have everything you desired? This week we follow King Solomon's thoughts as he describes what he did to have fun, and how it all turned out. Let's jump right into our study!

Lesson 4: Of Being and Time (Ecclesiastes 3)
My wife and the Holy Spirit sometimes seem to be partners! For example, when I drive to church to teach this lesson, I will be anxious to take as little time as possible. I leave my home on time, but I want to move right along. If two drivers slow me down by (for example) driving beside each other so no one can pass, this irritates me and I will have something important to say to improve their driving manners. If the traffic lights are not timed, I'll talk about that too. As my wife points out, only she gets to hear the lecture on driving manners, timed lights and the relative intelligence of other drivers - and she has heard the same lecture too many times to count! Why do I do this? As my wife points out, it makes no sense. What my wife and the Holy Spirit are working on is my misguided sense about time. Hurry up with everything! Our lesson this week is about time, so let's clock in!

Lesson 5: More Life Under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 4)
Have you noticed in American politics that everyone - even those who have been at the seat of government power their entire life - like to run for office as if they were an "outsider?" "I promise to bring fresh air and a new perspective to the government!" How many times have you heard that? Well, proving that he is right that nothing is new, we hear that same thing from King Solomon! Let's plunge into our lesson and learn more!

Lesson 6: Rich Man, Poor Man (Ecclesiastes 5)
How do you like your job? How much would you like to get rich? Would you like to know just the right thing to say at all times? How much time do you spend thinking about the past and how you could have done things better? How do you retain your wealth? Let's work ourselves into our lesson this week because Solomon discusses these things and more!

Lesson 7: Striving After the Wind (Ecclesiastes 6)
What do you most enjoy in life? What, for you, makes life worth living? Do you enjoy your prosperity? King Solomon is again ranting about how sad life can be, but our goal this week is to consider what Solomon says and uncover what we can learn from it to improve our life and our outlook on life. Let's dive right into our lesson!

Lesson 8: God Made Man Upright? What Happened? (Ecclesiastes 7)
When is the last time you took a good, hard look at your life? I've just about finished a book about a middle-aged man who essentially looked at his life and tossed out a great deal of it. Funerals tend to make us look at our life. So does a series illness. Solomon invites us this week to look carefully at our life and consider what we see. Let's jump into our lesson!

Lesson 9: Seeing Through a Glass Darkly (Ecclesiastes 8)
How smart are you? Smart enough, right? Are you smart enough to want to be wise? Smart enough to consider whether there is any benefit to wisdom? If so, what is the benefit of wisdom? Would you agree that it helps us to live better lives: not only in keeping out of trouble, but in helping us to get through trouble when it comes? This week King Solomon gives us a peek into his view of the benefit of wisdom. Let's wisely dive into our study!

Lesson 10: "Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do." (Ecclesiastes 9)
Have you thought much about your own death? A few years ago, I had some medical reason to believe that I might die in the near future. Although the thought I would die shortly was not pleasant, it was a very valuable learning experience. This week Solomon directs us to a consideration of our own death. In my case it turned out I did not have a fatal medical condition, but we all have the "medical condition" that we are mortal. Let's dive into our study and see what we can learn about living by contemplating our death!

Lesson 11: Dead Flies and Snake Charmers: More Life Under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 10)
Last week, we ended our study with the story of the man who saved the city against a great military power. The people of the city forgot the man because he was poor. His wisdom was not valued by them. This week, Solomon continues to urge us to consider the importance of wisdom in our words and in our work. Let's wisely dive into our study!

Lesson 12: The Way of the Wind (Ecclesiastes 11)
If you look at the "self-help" shelf in the bookstore you will find books on getting along with your co-workers, living well and getting rich. Solomon has been giving us advice on being good workers and getting along with others. Would God also give us directions on how to get rich - given Jesus' comment in Matthew 19:24 that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven? Surprise! This week Solomon seems to be giving us rules for getting rich. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see if you agree!

Lesson 13: The Conclusion of the Matter (Ecclesiastes 12)
So many times in this series of studies we have worried that Solomon's advice was not exactly right because he seemed to leave God and eternal life out of the picture. This week, in the concluding chapter, King Solomon strongly appeals to us to remember to put God in the center of our thinking and planning. Let's dive right into our study!

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