Week Four – Day 3 – Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 SOAP v. 19
18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
O – Attitude toward what we have: enjoy what God has given, and accept everything as a gift from God. Period. Be “occupied with joy.”
A – I have been pondering all that I have read over the past few weeks, wondering what it means for me, practically. Solomon’s attitude of excessiveness makes me wonder what MY attitude is! What do I think about wealth? Possessions? Work? Getting ahead? Lifestyle?
My life has changed so drastically since I married and moved to Indiana from Massachusetts. EVERYTHING is different! First of all, I’m married. Sharing life with the man I love. THAT is a blessing! I’m living in a different home. I love how it is set up, simply, but wonderful for having people over for dinner – or more! I’m not working. Yes, that has a financial effect, but we are living more simply – eating at home, spending less, not “shopping” as much, and taking a serious look at how our money is being spent or saved. I now have more time – as I’m not teaching, nor am I correcting papers at home. It has allowed me to take a step back and look at ministry and what GOD has for me in this season of life. And THAT is rich! I am able to facilitate a Bible study at church with a group of women who are eager to share what God is doing, and to learn together how to grow and share this with others. Life on life. Woman to woman. Each Tuesday, I drive home, my eyes and my heart filled with how God is blessing in this season of my life.
One of the differences that I see right away, came from reading today’s blog from LGG. “The enjoyment of our lives gives God glory as we thank HIM for the goodness of each of our priceless days.” – Angela As I read the blog, I thought about this past weekend, and our “Friday night meatballs.” Having a few families over from church, once or twice a month, to enjoy a meal and fellowship together is one of the things that we felt led to do as members of the Crossbridge “family.” The goal? To CONNECT. Not to impress. Not to “be nice.” But to help others connect, and help us get to know them. It’s not about the food, or the “right things”. It’s about the fellowship. It’s enjoying the time spent eating, laughing, and sharing stories. Simple food – meatballs. Family style service at the counter. Nothing that has to be slaved over. And – the joy of cooking together before everyone arrives. Rolling meatballs while Paul mixes up Brazilian carrot cake. Conversation. Anticipation. Easy pick up and cleaning.
When I think of the joy that we shared on Friday night, and how wonderful it was to see those three couples greet each other on Sunday – it warms my heart! It also saddens me to think of all the other times that I have “entertained” – and been more focused on getting everything ready and “perfect.” Is it all about having it all “right” – or helping people feel welcomed and special? Is it making sure that all the special food is ready – or having simple food – and enjoying the conversation? I read from a Women’s Ministry blog this morning about the difference between entertaining and hospitality (see below) and it confirmed what I am learning and feeling today!
One of the things that we considered in finding a home was to have a home that we could open to others. And it is a blessing to see how God is using this home – already – to have others here. Neighbors for coffee. Making cookies together to give to others. Having women over for a simple lunch of tomato soup. Having a huge gang of extended family for Thanksgiving – and more over the weekend! Setting up extra tables to enjoy a small group gathering for Christmas. Putting in the extra leaves of the table to have “Friday Night meatballs.” Clearing off the counter to put out dishes to serve a simple buffet. (and the benefit of having a clean counter for a few days! J )
I think this is what is meant by Solomon in saying, “Also, every man to whom God has given riches and possessions, He has also given the power and ability to enjoy them and to receive [this as] his [allotted] portion and to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God [to him]. 20 For he will not often consider the [troubled] days of his life, because God keeps him occupied and focused on the joy of his heart [and the tranquility of God indwells him]. (AMP) Part of this is enjoying what God has given, sharing it with others, and being joyful in doing so. Warren Wiersbe’s quote wrapped it all up for me. (I need to keep this in the front of my notebook!)
If we focus more on the gifts than on the Giver, we are guilty of idolatry. If we accept His gifts, but complain about them, we are guilty of ingratitude. If we hoard His gifts and will not share them with others, we are guilty of indulgence. But if we yield to His will and use what He gives us for His glory, then we can enjoy and be satisfied. -Warren W. Wiersbe – LGG Blog…
Father God – my heart is full today, thinking of all the blessing that You have placed in my life. Thank You for ALL that You have given to me. Help me be a good steward of Your gifts, Your resources, and Your blessings. Help me to not overlook what You have in front of me. May I not be so consumed with Your blessings and resources that I don’t see relationships. Help me to bless others with Your abundance.
Entertaining involves setting the perfect tablescape after an exhaustive search on Pinterest. It chooses a menu that will impress, and then frets its way through each stage of preparation. It requires every throw pillow to be in place, every cobweb to be eradicated, every child to be neat and orderly. It plans extra time to don the perfect outfit before the first guest touches the doorbell on the seasonally decorated doorstep. And should any element of the plan fall short, entertaining perceives the entire evening to have been tainted. Entertaining focuses attention on self.
Hospitality involves setting a table that makes everyone feel comfortable. It chooses a menu that allows face time with guests instead of being chained to the stovetop. It picks up the house to make things pleasant, but doesn’t feel the need to conceal evidences of everyday life. It sometimes sits down to dinner with flour in its hair. It allows the gathering to be shaped by the quality of the conversation rather than the cuisine. Hospitality shows interest in the thoughts, feelings, pursuits, and preferences of its guests. It is good at asking questions and listening intently to answers. Hospitality focuses attention on others.
Entertaining is always thinking about the next course. Hospitality burns the rolls because it was listening to a story.
Entertaining obsesses over what went wrong. Hospitality savors what was shared.
Entertaining, exhausted, says “It was nothing, really!” Hospitality thinks it was nothing. Really.
Entertaining seeks to impress. Hospitality seeks to bless.
But the two practices can look so similar. Two people can set the same beautiful tablescape and serve the same gourmet meal, one with a motive to impress, the other with a motive to bless. How can we know the difference? Only the second would invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind to pull up a chair and sip from the stemware (Luke 14:12–14). Our motives are revealed not just in how we set our tables, but in who we invite to join us at the feast. Entertaining invites those whom it will enjoy. Hospitality takes all comers.
My worth is not in what I own
Not in the strength of flesh and bone
But in the costly wounds of love
At the cross
My worth is not in skill or name
In win or lose, in pride or shame
But in the blood of Christ that flowed
At the cross
I rejoice in my Redeemer
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.
As summer flowers we fade and die
Fame, youth and beauty hurry by
But life eternal calls to us
At the cross
I will not boast in wealth or might
Or human wisdom’s fleeting light
But I will boast in knowing Christ
At the cross
Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed – my ransom paid
At the cross