“Nothing but vapor,” Ecclesiastes said. “Totally vapor. Everything is just vapor that vanishes.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 – EHV)
Three weeks ago Pastor Frey began our weekly Summer Bible Study on the book of Ecclesiastes. Throughout the summer, Pastor Frey and myself will be taking us each week -- chapter by chapter through this very unique book from God’s Word. This book was written by King Solomon towards the end of his life. He wrote this book from the perspective of being able to look back at his life and he saw that much of what he thought was important throughout his life was actually like chasing after vapor or meaningless. He realized that the earthly things of this world mattered little when compared to knowing God and his amazing grace.
As we look at our lives on this earth there are times where our lives also have a way of appearing meaningless. Our lives can seem very routine and monotonous. It can seem that we are in a rut and nothing really seems to change. It can seem at times that our lives are like chasing after vapors and are absolutely meaningless. Is this true? Are our lives really meaningless? From one perspective, it is true. If this life is all that we think there is, then in the end nothing we do will matter. But there is a second side to this question about our lives.
That is one of the reasons why God gave us the book of Ecclesiastes. It wasn’t to just say life is like a vapor or meaningless. The point of this book and the reason why it is one we should all read is because life is meaningless, if we don’t know and believe in God. As God’s children we realize that this world is not all there is. We believe and trust that there is a spiritual reality beyond this world called heaven. We believe that there is an eternal reality with God that we will one day experience. With that perspective we can see the world for what it truly is. Yes, this world in and of itself is meaningless or a passing vapor, but our lives are truly meaningful because we know and trust that when we die we will be with Jesus in heaven.
As we said at the beginning of this devotion, the reason God had Solomon write this book is so that people of all ages would realize what Solomon came to realize. After a life filled with the pursuit of wealth and fame, Solomon realized that the only thing that really matters, in the end, is a person’s relationship with the eternal God and not the pursuit of the things of this world.
Although Solomon lived nearly three thousand years ago, the lesson he learned is an important reminder for us today. We are constantly assaulted by the world’s mantra of living for this world where having more, bigger, newer, and better things in this life is the name of the game. But once we have acquired the newer and better and bigger, then what? In the end, the things of this world won’t matter. They are meaningless or like vapor in the wind.
What matters is our relationship with Jesus. Through Jesus, we have the peace of forgiveness. Through Jesus, we have an unsurpassed joy. Through Jesus, we are set apart for a blessed life now and in heaven. Through Jesus, our lives change from meaningless to eternally meaningful.
With this important thought in our mind, we invite all of you to join us for our weekly Summer Bible Study on the book on Ecclesiastes. We are prerecording these weekly Bible studies in a video format and then emailing the video link each week along with the Study Guide sheets to all those who would like to join us in the study of this beautiful book from God. If you would like to join in on this study, please email one of the Pastors so that we can add you to the list.
Pastor Mark Gartner
We have begun our Summer online Bible study of the book of Ecclesiastes. We are pre-recording these online studies and sending them out via a youtube link along with a study guide. Please contact one of the pastors if you want to be included on the email list.
Vacation Bible School:
After discussing the issue and surveying our families, we have to decided to go forward this year with a one-day Vacation Bible School. This year’s VBS will be held from 9:00-noon, with a possible fellowship time afterwards, on Wednesday August 12th. Parents are invited to stay with their children. Please keep your eyes open for more information including an online registration for families and volunteers. Please let Pastor Frey know if you have any questions or concerns.
Returning to Public Worship:
How great and wonderful it is to see people in-person as we worshiped our Lord together again! Together with the June Newsletter, you should have received a copy of our plan for returning to public worship. Please look over the document carefully. Please note that for the time being, since only one or two ushers will be needed per service, we will not be in need of Usher Teams. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact one of the Pastors or any of the council members. The document can also be accessed by clicking the link below. https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EaBy-IahwepIjjaHxkS5IbMBC7X1SDx1pug80s5jAzCihQ?e=fJjd64
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. To help with this, we added an extra service on Sunday morning. We are offering 7:30, 9:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
You can also signup by going directly to this link (it will be a different link each week): https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040a4aa9a62ea6fa7-stjohn2
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 7:30 am service which means you can watch anytime after 7:30 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.
Free Digital Resources from NPH
Our Synods Publishing House, NPH, is offering many great digital resources for free for the time being—including June’s Forward in Christ and the latest edition of Meditations. Please click on the link below for more info.