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Christmas HOPE - Day 6, Guest blogger Pastor Diane Rauma

Ecclesiastes 2:20-26a-"So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness..."

This Christmas, what are some of the 'things' that you pursue? Examples might be; a great family gathering, exchanging gifts, old friends and new friends coming together, a great holiday feast, a stocking filled with treats and surprises, a warm fire, a beautiful Christmas tree, all of the above, etc.

This morning my husband and I were studying Ecclesiastes chapters 1 and 2 and we gleaned so much. In this narrative today, King Solomon writes thematically throughout about what holds meaning and what doesn't. In case you didn't know, he was recognized as one of the wisest people to ever live. He was a king, wealthy, and had anything and everything he ever wanted - and then quips about how it's all meaningless.

So let's go back to my question. What 'things' do you pursue this Christmas or for that matter in life? I know for me I have pursued; safety and security, education (my husband kids me a lot because I've been in school our entire relationship), a meek and gentle spirit, a quiet mind, a hopeful future. These passages spoke to me this morning because everything on my list that I pursue has ultimately produced pain, grief, more worry, and sadness. Why? Because life goes by so fast and when I'm pursuing and asking God for safety and security He gives me a means grow out of fear and insecurity. When I've asked God for more wisdom, He's given me means to grow educationally but now the challenge is how to apply all of it. As I've asked for a meek and gentle spirit I have experienced moments where He's answered that prayer, yet there's still so much work inside of myself to get there. How about you? Do the things that we pursue in this life or even this Christmas bring us deep hope? Solomon hoped heavily because He had the wisdom to know that everything he experienced and was living in would all end when he passed away. He hoped in pleasing God. Notice that verse again; To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness..." So he hoped bigger by seeking how to and what would please God.

This is my encouragement for you this Christmas. Hope bigger. Pursue the 'things' that please God. Pursue what you must, but know that Christ hopes for you. He hopes you have a beautiful, fulfilled, happy, wise, joy-filled Christmas and life.

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Ideal Township Community Center

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