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Ecclesiastes 1-3

Life Is of No Worth

These are the words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “It is of no use,” says the Preacher. “It is of no use! All is for nothing.”

What does a man get for all his work which he does under the sun? People die and people are born, but the earth stays forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and travels in a hurry to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north. It goes around and around, and returns again on its way. All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. And they return again to the place from which the rivers flow. All things are tiring. Man is not able to tell about them. The eye never has enough to see, and the ear is never filled with what it hears. What has been is what will be. And what has been done is what will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one might say, “See, this is new”? It has already been there since long before us. 11 No one remembers the things that happened before. And no one will remember the things that will happen in the future among those who will come later.

Looking for Wisdom Is like Trying to Catch the Wind

12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my mind to look for wisdom to learn about all that has been done under heaven. It is a hard work which God has given to the sons of men to be troubled with. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun. And see, it is all for nothing. It is like trying to catch the wind. 15 What is not straight cannot be made straight. What is not there cannot be numbered. 16 I said to myself, “I have received more wisdom than all who were over Jerusalem before me. My mind has seen much wisdom and much learning.” 17 And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know what is crazy and foolish. I saw that this also is like trying to catch the wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much trouble. And he who gets much learning gets much sorrow.

Fun Is of No Worth

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with things that are fun. So have a good time.” But see, this also was for nothing. I said of laughing, “It is crazy,” and of fun, “What use is it?” I tried to find in my mind how to make my body happy with wine, yet at the same time having my mind lead me with wisdom. I tried to find how to take hold of what is foolish, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven during the few years of their lives. I did great things. I built houses for myself. I planted grape-fields for myself. I made gardens and beautiful places for myself, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made pools of water for myself from which to water many new trees. I bought men and women servants, and had other servants who were born in my house. I had more flocks and cattle than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I gathered for myself silver and gold and the riches of kings and lands. I got for myself male and female singers, and kept many women who acted as my wives, the joy of man. Then I became great, greater than all who lived before me in Jerusalem. And my wisdom stayed with me. 10 Whatever my eyes wanted I did not keep away from them. I did not keep my heart from anything that was pleasing, for my heart was pleased with all my work. This was my reward for all my work. 11 Then I thought about all that my hands had done, and the work I had done. I saw that it was all for nothing. It was like trying to catch the wind, and there was nothing to get for it under the sun.

The End of the Wise Man or Fool

12 So I turned to think about wisdom and what is crazy and foolish. For what can the man do who comes after the king, except what has already been done? 13 And I saw that wisdom is better than what is foolish, as light is better than darkness. 14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I know that one thing will happen to both of them. 15 Then I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” So I said to myself, “This also is for nothing.” 16 For the wise man will not be remembered forever any more than the fool. All will be forgotten in the days to come. The wise man dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life. For the work which had been done under the sun brought sorrow to me. Because everything is for nothing and is like trying to catch the wind.

18 I hated what came from all my work which I had done under the sun. For I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows if he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will rule over all that I have worked for by acting with wisdom under the sun. This also is for nothing. 20 So I was filled with sorrow for all I had worked for under the sun. 21 For here is a man who has worked with wisdom, much learning, and an able hand. Yet he must give this to one who has not worked for it. This also is for nothing, and very wrong. 22 For what does a man get from all his work and trouble under the sun? 23 For his work brings pain and sorrow all his days. Even during the night his mind does not rest. This also is for nothing.

24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and find joy in his work. I have seen that this also is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can find joy without Him? 26 For God has given wisdom and much learning and joy to the person who is good in God’s eyes. But to the sinner He has given the work of gathering and getting many riches together to give to the one who pleases God. This also is for nothing, like trying to catch the wind.

A Time for Everything

There is a special time for everything. There is a time for everything that happens under heaven. There is a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pick what is planted. There is a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. There is a time to cry, and a time to laugh; a time to have sorrow, and a time to dance. There is a time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to kiss, and a time to turn from kissing. There is a time to try to find, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away. There is a time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; a time to be quiet, and a time to speak. There is a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

The God-Given Work

What does the worker get for his work? 10 I have seen the work which God has given the sons of men to do. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has put thoughts of the forever in man’s mind, yet man cannot understand the work God has done from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and to do good as long as they live. 13 And I know that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his work. It is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will last forever. There is nothing to add to it, and nothing to take from it. God works so that men will honor Him with fear. 15 That which is, already has been. And that which will be, has already been. For God allows the same things to happen again.

Sin Is Everywhere

16 Also I have seen under the sun that in the place of what is right and fair there is sin. And in the place of what is right and good there is wrong-doing. 17 I said to myself, “God will judge both the man who is right and good, and the sinful man.” For there is a time for everything to be done and a time for every work. 18 I said to myself about the sons of men, “God is testing them to show them that they are like animals.” 19 For the same thing is to happen to both the sons of men and animals. As one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and to be a man is no better than to be an animal. Because all is for nothing. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. 21 Who knows that the spirit of man goes up and the spirit of the animal goes down to the earth? 22 So I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his work, for that is all he can do. Who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

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2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Our Job to Do

We are working together with God. We ask you from our hearts not to receive God’s loving-favor and then waste it. The Holy Writings say, “I heard you at the right time. I helped you on that day to be saved from the punishment of sin. Now is the right time! See! Now is the day to be saved.” We do not want to put anything in the way that would keep people from God. We do not want to be blamed. Everything we do shows we are God’s servants. We have had to wait and suffer. We have needed things. We have been in many hard places and have had many troubles. We have been beaten. We have been put in prison. We have been in fights. We have worked hard. We have stayed awake watching. We have gone without food. We have been pure. We have known what to do. We have suffered long. We have been kind. The Holy Spirit has worked in us. We have had true love. We have spoken the truth. We have God’s power. We have the sword of being right with God in the right hand and in the left hand. Some men respect us and some do not. Some men speak bad against us and some thank us. They say we lie, but we speak the truth. Some men act as if they do not know us. And yet we are known by everyone. They act as if we were dead, but we are alive. They try to hurt and destroy us, but they are not able to kill us. 10 We are full of sorrow and yet we are always happy. We are poor and yet we make many people rich. We have nothing and yet we have everything.

11 We have spoken to you who are in the city of Corinth with plain words. Our hearts are wide open. 12 Our hearts are not closed to you. But you have closed your hearts to us. 13 I am speaking to you now as if you were my own children. Open your hearts wide to us! That will pay us back for what we have done for you.

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Psalm 46

God Is with Us

46 God is our safe place and our strength. He is always our help when we are in trouble. So we will not be afraid, even if the earth is shaken and the mountains fall into the center of the sea, and even if its waters go wild with storm and the mountains shake with its action.

There is a river whose waters make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High lives. God is in the center of her. She will not be moved. God will help her when the morning comes. The people made noise. The nations fell. He raised His voice and the earth melted. The Lord of All is with us. The God of Jacob is our strong place.

Come and see the works of the Lord. He has destroyed parts of the earth. He stops wars to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two. He burns the war-wagons with fire. 10 Be quiet and know that I am God. I will be honored among the nations. I will be honored in the earth. 11 The Lord of All is with us. The God of Jacob is our strong place.

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Proverbs 22:15

15 A foolish way is held in the heart of a child, but the punishing stick will send it far from him.

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Copyright © 1969 by Christian Literature International

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