Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. Psalm 46:10

Ecclesiastes 1-3

Ecclesiastes 1

Preceding Generations Forgotten

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

3 What does man gain from all his labor
in which he labors under the sun?
4 One generation goes, and another generation comes;
but the earth remains forever.

5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,
and hurries to its place where it rises.
6 The wind goes toward the south,
and turns around to the north.
It turns around continually as it goes,
and the wind returns again to its courses.
7 All the rivers run into the sea,
yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
there they flow again.

8 All things are full of weariness beyond uttering.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 That which has been is that which shall be;
and that which has been done is that which shall be done:
and there is no new thing under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it may be said, “Look, this is new?”
It has been long ago, in the ages which were before us.
11 There is no memory of the former;
neither shall there be any memory of the latter that are to come,
among those that shall come after.

With Wisdom Comes Sorrow

12 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.  13 I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven. It is a heavy burden that God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and all is vanity and a chasing after wind. 15 That which is crooked can’t be made straight; and that which is lacking can’t be counted. 16 I said to myself, “I have obtained for myself great wisdom above all who were before me in Jerusalem. Yes, my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”  17 I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief; and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 2

The Futility of Pleasures

1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure: therefore enjoy what is good;” but this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is foolishness;” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?”

3 I searched in my heart how to cheer my flesh with wine, my heart yet guiding me with wisdom, and how to lay hold of folly, until I might see what was good for the sons of men that they should do under heaven all the days of their lives.

4 I made myself great works. I built myself houses. I planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit. 6 I made myself pools of water, to water from it the forest where trees were grown. 7 I bought male servants and female servants, and had servants born in my house. I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all who were before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces. I got myself male and female singers, and the delights of the sons of men: musical instruments, and that of all sorts.

9 So I was great, and increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also remained with me. 10 Whatever my eyes desired, I didn’t keep from them. I didn’t withhold my heart from any joy, for my heart rejoiced because of all my labor, and this was my portion from all my labor. 11 Then I looked at all the works that my hands had done, and all that I had labored to achieve; and all was vanity and a chasing after the wind, and there was no profit under the sun.

The Wise and the Foolish

12 I turned myself to consider wisdom, madness, and folly; for what can the king’s successor do? Just that which has been done long ago. 13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. 14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head, and the fool walks in darkness—and yet I perceived that one event happens to them all. 15 Then I said in my heart, “As it happens to the fool, so will it happen even to me; and why was I then more wise?” Then I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise any more than the fool, since in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. Indeed, the wise man must die just like the fool!

17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind. 18 I hated all my labor for which I toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who comes after me. 19 Who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I skillfully toiled under the sun. This also is vanity.

The Futility of Work

20 Therefore I began to despair over all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun. 21 For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, with knowledge, and with skillfulness; yet he shall leave it for his portion to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great tragedy.

22 For what does a man have of all his labor and of the striving of his heart, in which he labors under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail is grief; yes, even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.

24 There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and find joy in his labor. This also I have seen is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? 26 For to the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and heaping up so that he may give to him who pleases God. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

Ecclesiastes 3

To Everthing There is a Season

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven
2 a time to be born,
and a time to die;
a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill,
and a time to heal;
a time to break down,
and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep,
and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn,
and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones,
and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace,
and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek,
and a time to lose;
a time to keep,
and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear,
and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence,
and a time to speak;
8 a time to love,
and a time to hate;
a time for war,
and a time for peace.

The Excellence in God’s Works

9 What profit has he who works in that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the burden which God has given to the sons of men to occupy them. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts, yet no man can fathom the work that God has done from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice, and to do good as long as they live. 13 Also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the fruit of all his labor, is the gift of God. 14 I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; and God has done it, that men should revere him. 15 That which is has been long ago, and that which is yet to be has been long ago. God researches that which is past.

16 Moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there. 17 I said in my heart, “God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”

18 I said in my heart, “As for the sons of men, God tests them, so that they may see that they themselves are like animals. 19 For the same fate that falls on the sons of men falls on animals. As one dies, so the other dies. Yes, they have all one breath; and man has no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity.

From Dust to Dust

20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knows the spirit of man, whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, whether it goes downward to the earth?”

22 Therefore I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who can bring him to see what will be after him?

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Paul’s Hardships and God’s Grace

1 Working together, we entreat also that you do not receive the grace of God in vain, 2 for he says,

“At an acceptable time I listened to you. In a day of salvation I helped you.”  Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation.

3 We give no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our service may not be blamed,
4 but in everything commending ourselves, as servants of God, in great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses,
5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in watchings, in fastings;
6 in pureness, in knowledge, in perseverance, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love,
7 in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 by glory and dishonor, by bad report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;
9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and we live; as punished, and not killed;
10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

11 Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians. Our heart is enlarged. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return, I speak as to my children: you also open your hearts.

Psalm 46:1-11

God is Our Refuge and Strength

For the Chief Musician. By the sons of Korah. According to Alamoth.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes,
though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas;

3 though its waters roar and are troubled,
though the mountains tremble with their swelling.
Selah.

4 There is a river, the streams of which make the city of God glad,
the holy place of the tents of the Most High.

5 The Lord is within her. She shall not be moved.
The Lord will help her at dawn.

6 Nations rage. Kingdoms fall.
He lifted his voice and the earth melted.

7 The Lord of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah.

8 Come, see the works of the Lord,
what desolations he has made on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth.
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear.
He burns the chariots in the fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted on the earth.”
11 The Lord of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Proverbs 22:15

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child:
the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

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