Ecclesiastes 1:2 Meaningless And Worthless

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Proverbs 1:2

The words spoken in this verse are the words of a man who is broken and in great despair. He has looked at things in this world and could not find any meaning to anything. Everything that happens appears to have no meaning. The person speaking is Solomon, who had all the money and anything that he wanted. He was the wealthiest man that has ever lived in all of history, he made Bill Gates look poor, yet, he could not find meaning in life.

All around the world people are looking for meaning in life. It is extremely difficult to find meaning in war-torn countries, or in gang infested cities. It is difficult to find meaning when a loved one dies of an illness or bad accident. It is difficult to find meaning in losing a job or finding out a loved one has a dreaded illness or other health issue.

The question is often asked, “why do bad things happen to ‘good’ people?” People have philosophized over that question for centuries. Even Christians have struggled with that question. Many people look at everything and agree with Solomon that everything is meaningless.

When looking at everything without God or Jesus in the picture, it is true that everything is meaningless. Without God it does make sense why someone would want to commit suicide and end it all. There is no meaning in life or reason for anything without Jesus.

To find meaning in this life you must know God. In order to know God you must know Jesus. He is the only way to the Father. Jesus gives meaning to this life. In this life there will be things that look bad, and are bad, but Jesus gives the hope of an eternal life without suffering.

He gives reason to hang on in this life and to spread the Gospel message around the world. Without Jesus there is no peace or meaning. Without there being an eternal life to look forward to, there is no meaning for the suffering going on today.

When things look hopeless and meaningless in your life, look to God for meaning. Put all your hope and trust in Jesus and find meaning to this life.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your savior; that you will know God personally; that God will reveal meaning in your life; and that you will trust God through the meaningless times.

 

 

A Great Journey Still Fresh As New

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A word of warning, this post is much longer than my normal posts. Even longer than my extra posts that I do every so often. May you be blessed as you read it.

I have been on a great journey in this life that started twenty-five years ago today. It was May 16, 1992 that my wife and I said “I do” to each other and were married. It has been an amazing journey that many stated would never survive.

I was a young man who went to Trinity Bible college, a small bible college in a very small town in North Dakota. The college made up nearly half of the town’s population. The town only had one stoplight in town.

At the end of the Fall Semester of 1989, I felt God lead me to drop out of college for a time. I was a member of the ND National Guard at the time. The very next year, the war in Kuwait came up. I had volunteered to go over in the battle. I returned home in July 1991 and returned back to my job as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home.

In August, my boss asked me to help train in a new worker on a shift I normally did not work. I met this new worker and noticed that I liked something about her, but was not sure. As I trained her in and worked with her, I started to get to know her.

The more I knew her, the more I liked her. Without telling anyone that I liked her, I proceeded to get to know who she was by talking with her and others who knew her.

On October 10, which just happened to be my birthday, she went with me to a Christian comedian concert. There were supposed to be three other friends going that night, but the night before the concert each one had to back out for various reasons. She was still willing to go.

We spent a good portion of the day together. Everywhere we went people thought we were a couple already. This even included some of my own friends who knew me. Yet, at this point we were not going together.

At the end of the day, I knew that I really liked, no loved her. I prayed very hard all that night. I did not want to just date another girl. If I went into a relationship, I wanted it to be for marriage and for life. I needed to know if she was the lady God wanted me to marry. I felt in my spirit that she was the one, but I needed God to confirm it.

The following morning as I was walking on campus of the college, God chose to confirm it. He did it through three different friends of mine, none of whom knew that I was even interested in her. They had no clue what they were saying or talking about when they told me what they felt God wanted them to tell me, but I knew what it was about.

At that point I went to the campus bookstore and purchased a card that basically asked her to go with me for life. Indirectly it was a proposal. Amazingly, she said yes!

Over the next two months we started dating each other. By the middle of November, we knew that we would get married, but I did not want to officially propose to her until I talked with her father. Right before Christmas break I proposed and made it known to everyone. We set a wedding date for May 16, 1992, six months later.

During the time of engagement, my wife-to-be got very sick. Doctors could not determine what was wrong. We went to many doctors building up a very large medical debt. My small paying job was not enough to really cover the expenses of two houses. I had chosen to provide for all of her needs, besides I was going to be marrying her.

Many people were trying to tell us that the marriage would not work out. This included people in and out of the church. It was a difficult time because we both knew that God had called us together.

Right before the wedding, her health had returned, unexplained. God had blessed us with a very beautiful wedding and a two week honeymoon.

After a year of extreme financial hardship, in a town with no economy or jobs at all, I decided to join the army to get a better paying job. This moved us to Colorado. While there our first daughter was born. Shortly after the Army moved us to Germany. We stayed there for four and half years, and two of our boys were born there.

While in Germany God had blessed my wife with many Godly women to help and guide her in her life. She made several friends there that she is still friends with to this day.

The Army then chose to move us to Texas. We did not want to go there at all, and fought it hard, but God had His reasons. We finally gave in to God’s will and went. Before getting out of the Army, one more son was born.

During the time in Texas I had to be gone for several weeks to a month at a time, many times for trainings. It was a difficult time being separated. God held us together and kept us going forward despite all the challenges. God opened the door for me to get my ministerial certification shortly after getting to Texas.

In 2001, right before the 9-1-1 incident, God allowed me to get out of the army. God had blessed us with getting out, since a month later our country was under war again.

In our church I had become the children’s pastor shortly after getting out of the Army. It was a fun time, though there were some difficulties. The hardest part was financial stress. I could not seem to get a job that paid very well. Somehow God helped us survive and blessed us with two more children.

Later I felt God lead me to become a full pastor of a small church in Central Texas. It was a very difficult move for my wife because she had made a lot of friends where we were and did not want to leave them again. Leaving friends was something that seemed to keep happening in our life.

The move became even more difficult when half the church left right after I took it over. I found out that the church was not doing as well as they had appeared on the outside. After struggling to help it grow and keep the doors open for two years we closed the doors and left the ministry. I could not find another position at all. I felt like God closed the doors on us. I believe that maybe someday God will re-open those doors.

My wife struggled with that because she wanted to be a pastor’s wife. She was also struggling hard to raise our six children, at that time.

After working at it for twenty years, God allowed me to finally graduate college with a General Church Ministries degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas. It was a long, at times difficult road, but God had blessed it.

I started working several different jobs and kept getting laid off. Finances were extremely difficult to manage. Somehow God provided for our needs and kept us going. The one thing that was always very strong for us, was our love for each other. My wife supported me in whatever I felt God was leading me or us to do. I supported her in homeschooling our children.

Although my wife has never really worked a job for pay since we have been married (with exception to a couple of short time work jobs), she has worked very hard. The process of taking children to different events or trainings on a regular basis. The work of determining meals for a large family, that half will choose not to eat. The work of ensuring chores are done. And many other things keep her busy and working extremely hard.

Since then God has blessed us with two more wonderful children and a house with some land. We still have some struggles financially, but God has been amazing in providing for our needs. We have had vehicle breakdowns, sickness too numerous to count, injuries, loss of jobs, death in extended family members, false accusations, and many other challenges. The two things that gives sense to why we have survived is love and God, and both of those are one and the same. God is described as love. When we have God, we will have love. When we have love, we will have God.

We have kept a strong love and commitment to each other and to God. Both of us are constantly talking about each other and about God. Our relationship with God comes first, then our relationship together, and finally our relationship with our children.

God has blessed us with our children. Three of them are now adults but are active in the church and in ministry. The next three down are old enough now to be active in ministry in our church also.  The youngest two, I expect, will be active some day in ministry when they get old enough.

As I look back on this journey that started twenty-five years ago today, it often seems as if it just started yesterday or at least just a few days ago. My love for my wife has grown over the years. It has not diminished as many claimed it would. We have never entertained the thought that we should not be together or that someone else would be better. My wife, nor I have ever thought it was better when the other was gone away.

I want to encourage you, that if you are in a relationship or already in a marriage, keep that commitment to love each other and God as God loves you. Do not entertain thoughts of being with someone else. When you say, “I do,” say it for life, no matter what comes up or what happens.

God is with you and will never leave you. With God all things are possible. A marriage that lasts for a lifetime, though uncommon in this world, is not impossible with God at the center.

I can say with Solomon: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

God has given me what is good and I have found favor with Him in my wonderful marriage of twenty-five years and counting!

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I have been blessed with these twenty-five years and will be blessed for the next hundred and twenty-five on this great journey of marriage and family.

 

Psalm 124:1 If God Is Not On Your Side…

If the LORD had not been on our side–let Israel say–Psalm 124:1

As people go through struggles in life, there are some who begin to feel that God is against them. These are not those who are in the world and do not believe in God, but those who believe in God and attempt to follow Jesus.

The first thing that many believers feel, when something goes wrong in their life, is that they must have done something wrong and God is completely against them. That is a lie that the devil attempts to get people to believe. Remembering all his past sins will weigh a person down and make them feel God is not on his side. This comes from forgetting what Jesus had did on the cross and why He had  did it.

The devil wants the struggles and problems of this world to overcome a believer and destroy him. He wants the believer to begin to question God’s love for him. If that is allowed, the devil will win the battle and swallow up the believer in his lies.

Keeping his eyes on Jesus will keep the believer in right focus. God is right there beside the believer working to hold him up and make him into the person he needs to be. God will not allow the enemy to win the battle, unless the believer gives up on God.

No matter how tough a situation on life can get, it can always be worse. Until you are swallowed up by the world in death, you are still on the winning side. God is right beside you and will never leave you, as long as you do not push Him away.

Look back on your life and view the tough times you have already been through. Chances are you can see how God brought you through it. You can also see how things could have been worse, despite how bad they were.

While you are in the battle it may seem hopeless, but keeping your eyes on Jesus, you may know that in the end you will win. Jesus won the battle against death on the cross. He will help you win the battle against your soul. You will not be swallowed up and destroyed, unless you choose to be. Keep your hope in Jesus.

I pray today that you will see God’s hand in your life; that you will know the hope Jesus provides; that you will not fear the enemy of your soul; and that you will trust God is with you.

Job 30:20 When God Is Silent

I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. Job 30:20

Job is feeling the pain of the suffering he has been going through. Most of his life, he had been the leader and the one who helps others. Now that he is going through major troubles, he is seeking help and getting none and is being ridiculed by everyone as though cursed by God. He cries out to God but is not getting any answer.

It is common that when a person, who had been in very high standing, that suddenly falls into extreme hard times, will get put down by others. People will often shun a person who has fallen into difficult times.

This often happens because it appears that they have done something wrong to bring them down to that point. Those in the world are looking at that person as though he is no longer of any value because of the problems. That person can no longer help them out, so leave him to suffer.

There are times in the church where the same problem occurs. The only difference in the church is that people feel that God is cursing or punishing someone for sins to be going through the challenges.

Individual believers, will cry out to God seeking relief, only to get silence. God remains silent at times, making a person feel completely alone. Even though He is watching, God does not seem to care.

How many times in your own life have you gone through some major trial and you cried out to God for relief, but He gave no answer?

God was watching Job and was in complete control of what was occurring. He only allowed Satan to do only a certain amount to Job and no more.

Paul had a challenge in his life and he cried out to God also for relief. God told him that His grace was sufficient for him.

That same grace is enough for you also. You must trust that even though God may be silent, He is still in control and is taking care of you. God will give you everything you need. He is only allowing the best to happen to you.

Stay strong and true to God. In the end you will win with God on your side. He may be silent but He is still there.

I pray today that you will know the presence of God in your life; that you will know that God is in control; and that you will not feel alone in your struggles in this life.

2 Corinthians 4:18 Correct Focus

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Everyday every person has struggles of various types. Some days the struggles are very large, while other days they are small little ones. As people go through struggles they often get worn down and tired. Some of these struggles will actually tear the body down. Yet, Paul stated that these struggles are worth it in the end because of what they are accomplishing in light of eternity.

This is where focus comes into play. Believers are not to focus on the things that can be seen. These are things like, bills, a new car/house, latest fashions, illness, work, money, or anything like these. All of these things are things that the world strives to get and keep. Yes, a person can see them, but they are all temporary things. All these things will pass away eventually.

Think of life-like traveling down a road. As you are driving you come to a huge mountain that you must get over to the other side of. It is a difficult long drive to go up over, or around the mountain, but it must happen. As you pass over the mountain, you hit snow, bad weather, and steep climbs, but eventually you make it on the other side to your destination, despite the difficulties of the mountain and it is worth it.

In life you will have struggles, but the things that are not seen make it worth the struggle. You cannot physically see love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, or eternal life. Yet, all these things you will get and more as you make it through the struggles. It is all these things that are eternal and never go away or can be taken from you.

Focus on Jesus, who you cannot physically see. Watch what God is doing in your life and in this world today. Use your spiritual eyes to see the value of living the Christian life. Do not let the things of this world get you down or crush you, they are only here for a short time, (even though it feels like eternity right now).

I pray today that you will see what God is doing in your life; that you will focus on the things of God and what lasts for eternity; that you will not fear the things of this world; that God will help you not to be crushed by the struggles of today; and that God will make you more like Jesus.

John 16:1 A Warning

“All of this I have told you so that you will not fall away.” John 16:1

Jesus has been telling the disciples about His having to die and go away. He also tells them about how the world will hate them and persecute them. The things He is telling them are not all of a beautiful rosy picture perfect world, they are of struggles and hard times that are coming. His whole purpose for telling them was so that they will not fall away when it comes.

People love to talk about the love of God and the blessings God provides. They will also talk about the power of God and His great ability to heal and rescue people and defeat the enemy. When they look at just these aspects of God and what Jesus said, things look very great. It looks like everything will go great and smooth, that there will be many blessings and God’s favor.

Yet, that is not what Jesus is saying. He tells you that there will be problems and trouble. In the very next verse Jesus states that there will come a time when people will think they are serving God by killing believers.

Jesus is promising trouble. If you forget to look at that, you may, like many others, fall away from Jesus when those troubles come.

When hardship comes it is easy to think that maybe you failed God and are getting punished, or that maybe believing in God is not the real truth and that maybe the world is right after all.

You are warned by Jesus before things happen so that you will not fall away. Jesus told you it would be tough, so that you do not question what is happening when it happens. These things are to build your faith and trust in God.

Who is in control? God. Do you really believe that? When things go bad or from bad to worse, do you still believe that?

Do not give up on God. Do not lose your faith in Him. Everything that happens is happening for a purpose to build you more like Jesus and to bring others to Jesus. Use those bad things as a testimony for Jesus. Do not let them cause you to fall away.

I pray today that you will trust Jesus in the bad times; that you will rely upon the power of Jesus; that you will not doubt Jesus; and that you will be made more like Jesus through all you go through in life.

John 14:27 A Different Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

As Jesus is getting ready for His death on the cross He tells the disciples that He is giving them His peace. This peace would be something different from the peace the world gives.

People are always talking about wanting peace. The most common thought in this is with the absence of wars between two nations. This can also be the absence of differences of conflict between two people or groups inside of one nation.

While this type of peace is great, that is not what Jesus is looking at when He gives His peace. In the next few years of the lives of each of these disciples they would be in the battle of their lives. This battle will actually claim most of their lives. On the outside there will be no real peace.

Jesus had said that there will be trouble in your life. You will also be in a battle against spiritual forces that war against God. According to the definition of peace that the world gives, this would mean there is no peace.

The peace that Jesus gives you transcends all troubles and war. It is an inner peace, regardless of the outside circumstances.

This peace is the knowing that God is in control. It is knowing that Jesus will win in the end. It is knowing that if you are with Jesus you will win in the end.

It is knowing that you do not have to be worried about how bad things appear to be. You do not have to be afraid of what the world can do to you.

These things are true, no matter how bad the situation is in your life. In America, most people are not threatened with their life for their belief in Jesus. However, many are ridiculed for their belief. The enemy battles against them with many types of struggles. These struggles can seem huge, but remember that God is bigger than all those struggles. God is in control of all those struggles.

Accept the peace that Jesus gives you. Let His peace calm your heart and soul.

I pray today that Jesus will fill you with His peace; that you will allow the peace of Jesus to be in you; that you will trust Jesus in every situation; and that you will not be afraid or troubled about anything.