Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

Learning The Hard Way

ECCLESIASTES 2:9-11 – So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. “


THEME OF THE DAY:  LEARNING THE HARD WAY.  The Lord calls us “sheep” for many reasons and one of them is not because we are cute and cuddly as lambs are often portrayed. No, we are called sheep because we are timid, easily frightened, need constant supervision, drift into forbidden pastures and are stubborn.  It is the last one that takes us into the theme of today’s nugget and scripture.

The Apostle Paul has told us the goal of salvation is God choosing and conforming a people in the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:28-29).  He would also inform us that what God starts, God finishes and that includes the work of making us like Jesus – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). One of those ways God does this conforming work in His children is found in today’s scripture.

King Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, had it all. He was the richest man in the world and what today’s scripture tells us is that he withheld nothing from himself in the pursuit of happiness, purpose, and pleasure in life.  We read . . . . And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure.  He saw it. He bought it.  He wanted it. He got it.  At the end of this long journey, he learned it was all vain; vanity, a waste of time, money and energy.  But we might ask, “What does that have to do with God changing me into the image of Christ?”  Much.

As the sheep of the Lord’s pasture, and if we are stubborn sheep who have to learn things the hard way, the Good Shepherd, in His wise and loving ways, may just let us go for a little time, like Solomon, to pursue self-interests, self-desires, and self-fulfillment in anything or anyone but Him.  He just might let us walk down a prodigal path for us to discover that all is vain, empty, and unfulfilling and that only Christ satisfies, only the will of God fulfills, and only glad submission and obedience to His work of conformity to the image of Jesus brings contentment and purpose in our lives.


Sheep of His pasture.  It is a comforting truth that no matter what, our Shepherd is going to complete His work in us.  May we be “good sheep” and not have to learn our lessons the hard way.


PRAYER: “Father, help me to see Your love for me is sometimes needed ‘tough love’ for I am slow to learn.”


QUOTE: “God may let us go down a prodigal path of worldliness to teach us the vanity of all that is in this life.”


Because of Him,


Pastor Jim