Disgusted with Life? (Ecclesiastes 2:1-26)

  • I really like those Kraft Kitchen commercials on the radio
  • usually you have a busy mom with kids waiting at home to go to swimming lessons, kung fu, or whatever kids go to
  • the parents have plans to go bowling or whatever else parents do
  • on the way out, a Kraft Kitchen mom is stopped and asked some cooking secrets for busy families
  • she always emphasizes that she has very little time to cook, and she's in a rush
  • and invariably at the end of one of those commercials I'm ready to eat whatever she's got cooking

  • now, imagine you're hired
  • and not by Kraft, but you're hired by someone with a lot of money
  • and you're asked to come up with a recipe - except not a recipe for some delicious food items, but a recipe for life
  • your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with a recipe for happiness
  • your assignment is to come up with a delicious recipe for life

  • right away you want to know what resources you have available
  • you're old you have a virtually unlimited budget - spend millions if you'd like
  • how many staff can you hire?
  • hire as many as you'd like
  • take your time
  • but your assignment is to come up with a recipe for a happy life

  • I don't know about you, but I'd probably accept this assignment
  • travel, money, time to do whatever I'd like, search for happiness - is there anyone here who wouldn't take this assignment?
  • those who didn't raise their hands, please leave
  • no, I would take this assignment

  • the Bible, which many people think is a dry, dusty, irrelevant book, actually describes such an experiment
  • thousands of years ago, someone - probably King Solomon of Jerusalem - embarked on this assignment
  • he was looking for happiness and fulfillment in his life
  • in the past two weeks, we've looked at the initial phase of what you could call his experiment
  • he's already put forward his thesis that everything under the sun - from a human perspective - is meaningless, empty, futile, like a vapor

  • "But wait," you say, "he hasn't finished his experiment yet"
  • you're right
  • so today we're going to join him as he continues his search for happiness in life
  • please open your Bibles, if you have them, to Ecclesiastes 2
  • let's enter, if you will, not Kraft's Kitchen for busy moms, but Solomon's kitchen for people who want to be happy
  • Solomon's going to begin by trying two time-tested recipes for happiness: enjoyment and employment

  • [RECIPE ONE]
  • look at the first recipe Solomon tried
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:1) I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good."
  • one translation says, "I said to myself, ‘Come now, let's give pleasure a try. Let's look for the ‘good things' in life"

  • then he describes some of the things he tried to find pleasure:
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:3) I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.

  • in my mind's eye, I can easily imagine Solomon experimenting with the finer things in life
  • the finest wines, the tastiest and best cuts of meat, entertainers, beautiful women, expensive toys
  • they were all his
  • if Solomon were here today, he might go to the finest shops and boutiques in town
  • he would go to all the fun places to be
  • he would allow himself to be entertained and indulged, and there he would find happiness

  • some people try this experiment today
  • they say, "If I could only experience more pleasure in life, I would be happy"
  • today's world is pleasure-mad
  • we spend millions to buy experiences and escape from the burdens of life
  • "If it feels good, do it!"
  • all of us like to have fun - almost all of us - but it is amazing how many people begin to build their lives around experiencing pleasure
  • it becomes their focus in life

  • and let me tell you something: they're all disappointed
  • because while pleasurable experiences are, well, pleasurable, they do not bring lasting satisfaction or contentment to the soul
  • look at verse one again:
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:1) I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless.
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:2) "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?"
  • (Proverbs 14:13) Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.

  • you know, pleasure-seeking is good for a time, but pleasure is elusive: the more we look for it, the less we find
  • pleasure is like cotton candy: it sure tastes good for a minute, but you sure can't live on a diet of cotton candy
  • the irony is that the more we crave pleasure, the less it satisfies
  • and the law of diminishing returns says that eventually pleasure, if it is our purpose in life, brings no enjoyment at all, only bondage
  • Warren Wiersbe points out that the more people drink, the less pleasure they get out of it and the more drinks they need
  • the more people misuse drugs, gambling, sex, money, fame, or any other pursuit, the less it brings in return
  • when we make pleasure our goal in life, the result is ultimately disappointment and emptiness
  • Solomon said it: pleasure turned out to be meaningless; laughter can not mask an unfulfilled life
  • now understand: Solomon is not attacking those who have fun, or have a healthy sense of humor
  • he's saying that if it's your only reason for living, there's no lasting satisfaction
  • it's at best short-lived and superficial
  • it may dull the harsh realities of life, but it doesn't truly satisfy

  • now let's stop and ask ourselves: how many of us are looking to pleasure to bring us happiness?
  • how many of us are looking to alcohol or sex or television or movies or entertainment to make us happy?
  • true happiness doesn't come from a bottle or from Hollywood
  • Paramount Canada's Wonderland doesn't sell happiness
  • you won't find life's answers on Seinfeld or Friends
  • so stop looking there!

  • [RECIPE TWO]
  • the next thing Solomon tried was employment
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:4) I undertook great projects
  • verses four to ten describe the projects that Solomon tried in an attempt to find something worth living for
  • he built houses, cities, gardens, vineyards, orchards, and forests
  • he built the water system needed to service them
  • the supervised the building of the temple, one of the greatest buildings of its time
  • he hired workers, including 30,000 Jewish men to work on his projects
  • he accumulated wealth in flocks and herds, and gold and silver
  • when the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon, she said:
  • (1 Kings 10:7) But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.

  • in all his work, and the riches and lifestyle that came with it - including a harem - Solomon found no satisfaction
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:11) Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
  • Henry Ward Beecher said, "Success is full of promise until men get it, and then it is last year's nest from which the birds have flown"
  • many overachievers are miserable people
  • riches do not bring happiness
  • success in your career does not bring happiness in and of itself

  • one person writes:

If lasting happiness could be found in having ma terial things and in being able to indulge ourselves in whatever we wanted, then most of us...should be delirious with joy and happy beyond description. We should be producing books and poems that describe our state of unparalleled bliss. Our literature and art should rival that of the ancient Greeks and Romans and Renaissance craftsmen.

Instead we find those who have "things" trying to get more of them, for no apparent reason other than to have more. We find high rates of divorce, suicide, depression, child abuse, and other personal and social problems beyond description. We find housewives trading tranquilizer prescriptions. All this is surely proof that happiness is not found in the state of having all we want and being able to get more.

  • Chuck Swindoll summarizes this passage by saying:
  • sensual pleasures hold out promises that lack staying power
  • sensual pleasures offer to open our eyes, but in reality they blind us
  • sensual pleasures disillusion us, making us cover-up artists

  • somebody wrote a poem in 1897:

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him;
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich - yes, richer than a king.
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought he was everything
To make us with that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Corey, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

  • Solomon says in verse 12:
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:12) Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?
  • in other words, he's saying, "Maybe it's better not to know"
  • he began to think, "Since both fools and the wise both die, and are forgotten, why should I be wise?"
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:14) The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:16) For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
  • what difference does it make if you're wise or a fool? you both die just the same
  • and who will remember your name in a few years?
  • the wise man won't be any better remembered than the fool

  • death is the great leveler: good men and bad men die
  • death tramples on every value judgment we make
  • wisdom might be better than folly, but guess what?
  • if life ends at the grave, neither of them will get the last word
  • the choices we have made in our lives become irrelevant
  • as one man said, "If every card in our hand will be trumped, does it matter how we play?"

  • I hope you're beginning to discover that the answer to the meaning of life is not found "under the sun"
  • after all Solomon's reasoning, listen to what he says beginning in verse 17:
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:17) So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
  • do you blame Solomon for being depressed?

  • then Solomon looks at one more thing in verse 18:
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:18) I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:19) And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:20) So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:21) For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:22) What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:23) All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.

  • Solomon could very well say, "What difference does it make?"
  • if death is the end of life, why does it matter how we live?
  • the verses we just read point out that all the things we work for are temporary
  • after we're gone, after our life's work has been completed, all our work will be like a sandcastle on a beach as the tide comes in
  • our work will likely disappear

  • [CONCLUSION]
  • friends, Solomon is trying to save us some grief
  • Solomon is in the Kraft kitchen of life and is trying out some recipes
  • he's pointing out the approaches to life that he's cooked up that have tasted really bad in the end

  • now you have an option
  • are you going to ignore Solomon's experiences and cook up these recipes anyway?
  • or are you going to end up learning the hard way, or are you going to learn from Solomon's experience?

  • this morning we're completing the first section of Ecclesiastes
  • Solomon has so far presented four arguments that seem to prove that life is not worth living:
  • the monotony of life (1:4-11), the vanity of wisdom (1:12-18), the futility of wealth (2:1-11), and the certainty of death (2:12-23)
  • according to Solomon, life is not worth living if you live under the sun

  • BUT ALL OF A SUDDEN GOD ENTERS THE PICTURE
  • it is the first note of optimism evident in Solomon's thinking
  • and guess what? it's when God enters the picture
  • read verses 24 to 26 with me
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:24) A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:25) for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:26) To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

  • you know what Solomon is saying?
  • he's saying, "Yes, life under the sun is meaningless. If you leave God out of the picture, life is just like a giant bubble that will surely pop"
  • but enter God, and Solomon remembers that our food and drink and work is really a gift from God and is to be enjoyed
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:25) for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
  • only with God does life make sense

  • now listen to me
  • only in God does life have meaning and true pleasure
  • without God, nothing satisfies, but in God we find satisfaction and enjoyment
  • true satisfaction in life only comes when we acknowledge God - it's the only recipe that works
  • without him life is futile

  • it's decision time this morning for some of you
  • we're about to sing a hymn that really summarizes what Solomon is saying called "Burdens are Lifted at Calvary"
  • only as we come to Calvary are the burdens of life truly lifted
  • let's pray this morning

Living in Circles (Ecclesiastes 1:1-18)

  • you know you're in trouble when the doctor says, "Was this here the last time I examined you?"
  • at a routine yearly physical, Pat Howard's doctor discovered a mass in her abdomen
  • the look on his face told her instantly that the mass was suspicious and would need more investigation
  • during the next weeks she was x-rayed, sonared, bled, and clucked over
  • finally it all boiled down to the results of a blood test for which she would have to wait five days
  • five days!
  • in case you don't know, the "c" word - cancer - has a way of expanding the number of minutes in an hour
  • the five days seemed like an eternity

  • finally, the morning came when she could call for results
  • her husband held her hand
  • she placed the call
  • in the blink of an eye, time returned to a normal pace and she was able to take a breath
  • the tests were negative; the mass was benign
  • now her life could get back to normal

  • do you think her life could get back to normal?
  • looking back on her life until the doctor found the mass, she comments:
  • "When had we become so numb? At what point had the color begun to fade from our marriage?...It came to me that ‘normal' had been the real cancer of my life. I had been painting my life by number...Previously I had been getting by in life. I had resigned myself to being content with less and less. My role...had become robotic. I could just insert the tape for the day and let it play...My role as human being had been overshadowed by fears and worries and survival. Not only did I not stop to smell the flowers, I didn't know they were there or, even worse, cursed the fact that they were in the way"

  • you know, there's something called "urgency addiction"
  • that's when your life becomes so busy that you begin to neglect looking at the bottom line issues
  • sadly, many of us live in this condition for years before a crisis happens and we take a good, hard look at our lives and realize that we're living in circles

  • thousands of years ago, a man lived who had the resources to do an experiment with his life
  • his name was Solomon, king of a nation, rich and willing to do it all
  • this man was renowned for his wisdom
  • he had the wherewithal to try every approach to life
  • hard work, power, riches, sex - you name it, he tried it
  • here was a man who had tried it all!
  • here was a man who had gone for the gusto and done everything
  • in many ways, he was the quintessential man who had arrived
  • he had done everything
  • there were no more ladders left to climb
  • he had arrived

  • probably near the end of the life, he reflected on human experience, much as Pat Howard did
  • now please open your Bibles to Ecclesiastes
  • if you open your Bibles to the middle and go two books east, or toward the end, you will find this jewel of a book
  • we're going to look at his preliminary conclusions about life

  • what I want to do today is to save you the trouble of getting cancer, or having a mid-life crisis, or losing a loved one to slow down and look at your life
  • in fact, I'm going to save you the trouble and give you the crisis all by itself
  • you'll thank me later

  • I'll quickly give you Solomon's thesis, and then we'll go on to look at some arguments to buttress his thesis
  • and we'll see clearly how little life has changed since Solomon wrote these words
  • here is Solomon's thesis:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:1) The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:2) "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:3) What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
  • KJV (Ecclesiastes 1:2) Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
  • NCV (Ecclesiastes 1:2) The Teacher says, "Useless! Useless! Completely useless! Everything is useless."
  • the word in Hebrew literally means "empty; unsatisfactory; futile"
  • it is similar to vapor, which disappears quickly, leaves nothing behind, and does not satisfy
  • one professor defined this word as "whatever is left after you break a soap bubble"

  • what a conclusion for Solomon to make!
  • the word "meaningless" is repeated over 30 times in Ecclesiastes
  • what Solomon is saying is that when he considers his wealth, his works, his wisdom - everything - he comes to this conclusion:
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:11) Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

  • Solomon begins in chapter one to characterize nature as an endless round of pointless movement
  • and he points out that this rhythm engulfs human generations as well

  • now, what I'm going to ask you to do for the remainder of this message is to put your heart on the line
  • I'm going to ask you to avoid the necessity of being threatened with cancer
  • instead, we're going to stop long enough to examine our lives and see if what Solomon said is still true
  • because if what he said is true, surely we need to make some changes, right?
  • if your role has become monotonous and robotic
  • if your contributions add up and amount to nothing
  • if you are just getting by in life
  • if you are living in circles, Solomon holds out a sign and says "Stop!"
  • and we had better make some changes

  • LOOK AT THESE EXAMPLES OF FUTILITY AND SEE IF THEY RING TRUE:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:4) Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:5) The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:6) The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:7) All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
  • Solomon says, "Nothing has changed"
  • there is a group of people who will be born today and there is a group of people who will die today
  • one generation comes and another goes, but nothing really changes

  • Solomon identified the "wheel of nature" around him: the earth, the sun, the wind, and the water
  • he compares the transience of generations to the endurance of the earth
  • despite continual departures and entries of separate generations, the earth stands intact
  • a man named Jerome wrote, "What is more vain than this vanity: that the earth, which was made for humans, stays - but humans themselves, the lords of the earth, suddenly dissolve into dust?"
  • we can envision the world lasting for many more generations, but you and I will not profit from it, because we will pass from the scene forever
  • and Solomon says, this is meaningless

  • Solomon encourages us to look at the sun
  • one Scriptural writer describes the daily passage of the sun this way:
  • (Psalms 19:5) which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
  • this celebrates the daily journey of the sun with a sense of wonder
  • but look at Solomon's description of the daily journey of the sun
  • instead of picturing a vigorous champion who easily makes the daily round, he pictures the sun as arriving exhausted at the end of the day, only to undertake the whole ordeal again
  • it's like the story of Sisyphus in the ancient legend, who was condemned to an eternity of rolling a boulder to the top of a hill, only to have it return to the starting place over and over again
  • it's perpetual drudgery
  • are you depressed yet?
  • he also mentions the relentless blowing of the wind as anothe r example: it makes no more difference than the sun's daily round or the coming and going of countless generations

  • to top off our look at nature's pointless activity, Solomon turns our attention to the countless streams that flow into the sea, and yet the seas are never overflowed!
  • even lakes or seas with no outlet still remain unfilled
  • he's pointing out the countless cycles that go on and on and on for generation after generation
  • it's called "living in circles"

  • Solomon points out that the same is true of the human condition
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:8) All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:9) What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:10) Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:11) There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

  • you know, nothing really changes
  • verse eight points out that we're just like the Athenians mentioned in Acts 17:21:
  • (Acts 17:21) (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
  • humans are always looking to see and hear new things
  • just look at the entertainment industry
  • no matter how many bad movies I've seen, I'm still ready to try the next one to see if I like it
  • but despite our hunger to see and hear new things all the time, we're still not satisfied

  • let me tell you something: you can buy the biggest television on the market, you can but the fanciest satellite dish or subscribe to the greatest amount of cable channels possible, and you won't be a happier human being
  • I guarantee it

  • what's more, there's nothing really new in life
  • think about it: since Solomon wrote these words thousands of years ago, nothing much has changed under the sun
  • we'd like to think that the world is full of new things such as computers and fax machines and new cars
  • but if we think anything is new, it's because we haven't read the minutes of the last meeting
  • there may be new circumstances and new lifestyles, people are just the same as when Solomon wrote
  • there has been no new development in the areas of human nature and sin

  • Rudyard Kipling wrote a funny little rhyme:

The craft that we call modern;
The crimes that we call new;
John Bunyan had them typed and filed
in 1682

  • there's nothing new

  • verse 11 is very sobering:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:11) There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.
  • when we are gone, who will remember us?
  • our children, our close friends
  • but pretty soon they will pass on too, and our memory will pass from the earth
  • if you ever go to an old cemetery, where the names are beginning to fade from the headstones, you'll realize that for many people, that headstone is the only sign that that person ever lived
  • no one remembers that person
  • our name will pass from the earth as well
  • previous generations are quickly forgotten, and future generations will fare no differently

  • finally, the historian becomes the philosopher
  • Solomon describes how he went about searching for the answer to the human condition
  • look at what he writes:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:12) I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:13) I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men!
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:14) I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:15) What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.

  • as king he had the resources necessary to experiment with different solutions, trying to find an answer to the problem of meaninglessness
  • Solomon pulled up his sleeves and looked at life from every angle
  • it appears that he made his study his life's focus, ignoring the affairs of running the country
  • he set aside all his religious moorings and tried sex, money, work - everything!
  • and here are his findings:
  • literally, verse 13 says that God has given men and women an evil burden
  • in other words, life is tough!
  • do you believe it? life is tough!
  • everything, he says in verse 14, is meaningless, a chasing after the wind

  • in verse 15 he says:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:15) What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.
  • in other words, there is something fundamentally wrong with life on earth
  • there are some problems which continue generation after generation which have never been solved
  • there are some problems, from a human perspective, that are unfixable

  • and after all Solomon's study, described in verses 16 and 17, he concludes:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:18) For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
  • in other words, "ignorance is bliss"
  • sometimes it's better not to know
  • even wisdom has limitations
  • there are some things that even wisdom can't change
  • humanistic wisdom - wisdom without God, also leads to grief and sorrow

  • [CONCLUSION]
  • now, my purpose this morning is not to depress you
  • that's the farthest thing from my mind
  • but many people are living as Pat Howard did before the doctor found a mass in her abdomen
  • they're painting by number in their lives
  • they're just getting by
  • they're robotic
  • their roles as human beings have been overshadowed by fears and worries and survivals

  • was Solomon being pessimistic?
  • I think he was being realistic:
  • life - and remember here he's talking about life without God - is futile, and there is no profit from endless activity on earth
  • "empty, vain, meaningless, futile," Solomon says, "everything is meaningless"
  • it's a chasing after the wind
  • Henry David Thoreau said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation"
  • and I agree
  • sometimes it takes a brush with death to make us realize it

  • remember, Solomon was one of the wisest men who ever lived
  • he tried everything
  • he wasn't a naysayer or a prophet of doom
  • he realized that life really is monotonous
  • that if we add up our lives, they really don't total what we think they might

  • okay, application time
  • APPLICATION ONE: DON'T DISAGREE TOO QUICKLY
  • I know there are some people here this morning who disagree with this first chapter of Ecclesiastes
  • there are some people who always look on the bright side, and I admire them
  • but what I ask you to do is to read the first chapter of Ecclesiastes a few times in the next week
  • see if you can disagree with him or not
  • argue with him if you like
  • but ask yourself honest questions - is Solomon right or not?
  • next week we're going to look at Ecclesiastes chapter two, and I invite you to read ahead there as well

  • APPLICATION TWO: TAKE TIME TO THINK
  • many of us are too rushed in our lives
  • there are too many items in our inbox or to-do list
  • we're too busy for our own good
  • Solomon slowed down
  • I invite you in these next weeks to slow down and really look at your life
  • if what Solomon says is true, we have to change our lives

  • APPLICATION THREE: LOOK ABOVE THE SUN
  • basically Solomon is looking at life from a human perspective, not from heaven's point of view
  • he is examining life merely at a human level
  • we have to remember as we read Ecclesiastes that most of the time, he is reflecting life apart from God
  • that's what the phrase "under the sun" means

  • now I'll give you a hint as to one of the applications of this book
  • life only makes sense with God
  • a few years ago there was this slogan that Coca Cola used, "Things go better with Coke"
  • let me rephrase this statement to reflect one of the truths of Ecclesiastes: "Life goes better with God"
  • in fact, life only makes sense with God
  • apart from God, from an "under the sun" perspective, life is utterly futile, empty, and meaningless
  • we need God and a personal relationship with his Son in order for life to make any sense
  • in the words of Teilhard de Chardin, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."

  • Warren Wiersbe summarizes:
  • the scientist tells us that the world is a closed system and nothing has changed
  • the historian tells us that life is a closed book and nothing is new
  • the philosopher tells us that life is a deep problem and nothing is understood
  • this is life "under the sun"
  • the only way out of this mess is to look somewhere else
  • perhaps if you've never done so, you need to look at God
  • let's pray

Is Life Worth Living? (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3)

  • I'd like you to imagine being given a blank check for anything you want
  • you are literally told that anything you ask for is yours - whether it be material or otherwise
  • you want riches? ask for it
  • you want a new spouse? it's yours for the asking
  • you want a long and healthy life? all you have to do is ask
  • what would you choose?

  • this question is interesting because of the proliferation of such things as hospital lotteries
  • you read these brochures and see a brand new gorgeous home with two cars parked outside, and you begin to imagine - what if?
  • or you go to, of all places, McDonald's, and see there that if you buy a McArch Deluxe Meal, you get a voucher redeemable for a Lotto 649 ticket
  • and of course you begin to imagine being able to give seven million dollars to the church if you won the lottery

  • what would you ask for?
  • what would really make you happy?

  • a man was once asked this question by God himself
  • this man's name was Solomon, king of Israel after his father King David had died
  • King Solomon was probably all of 20 years old when he was asked this question:
  • (1 Kings 3:5) At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you."
  • now talk about a question!
  • what would you ask for?
  • what would make you happy?

  • now, I'm sure if I asked you this morning what you would ask for, we would all say wonderfully spiritual things
  • we might say an end to world hunger, or peace in our times, or the eradication of poverty
  • but in our heart of hearts, wouldn't we be thinking it would be nice to have a better job, or no job, or a brand spanking new house with two cars?
  • I have to admit occasionally imagining coming into a large sum of money, and you know one thing I would do?
  • secretly pay off the mortgages and debts of my close family, and the next time they go to the bank to make a payment, they're told, "What are you doing here? You don't owe us anything any more?"
  • that would be great!
  • of course I would tithe on the money

  • you know what Solomon asked for?
  • (1 Kings 3:6) Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
  • (1 Kings 3:7) "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.
  • (1 Kings 3:8) Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.
  • (1 Kings 3:9) So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

  • what an answer!
  • wisdom!
  • the Scripture tells us in 1 Kings 3:10 that God was very pleased with Solomon for asking this
  • most kings would have asked for a long life, or wealth, or the death of their enemies
  • but Solomon asked for wisdom
  • and because Solomon asked for wisdom, listen to what God said:
  • (1 Kings 3:12) I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
  • (1 Kings 3:13) Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for--both riches and honor--so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.
  • (1 Kings 3:14) And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life."
  • he's got it made!
  • wisdom, riches, and honor
  • wouldn't you like to be this twenty-year old king?

  • now flash forward
  • we're nearing the end of Solomon's life
  • what sort of life do you think he had?
  • wouldn't you expect it to have been a full life and an enjoyable life?
  • wouldn't you like to read what Solomon had to say about life?
  • you know, if I was a publisher at the beginning of Solomon's life, I would sign him up right away to write his memoirs so we could learn from his life
  • surely if people buy books on David Letterman's top ten lists or read some of the books they're reading, they would want to read Solomon's insights into good living

  • you know, there is such a book
  • nowhere in this book does the author give his name, but the descriptions he gave of himself indicate that the writer was probably King Solomon at the end of his life
  • he was the "son of David" and the "king in Jerusalem"
  • he claimed to have great wealth and wisdom
  • in all likelihood, Solomon was the writer of this book called Ecclesiastes

  • it appears this book was written at the end of Solomon's life, reflecting on his life's experiences and the lessons learned
  • you see, Solomon has done it all
  • he began his reign as a humble servant of God, but as he grew older, his heart turned away from the Lord
  • he dabbled in multiple marriages and false gods
  • he tried possessions, pleasures, power, and prestige
  • here was a man who had tried it all!
  • here was a man who had gone for the gusto and done everything
  • in many ways, he was the quintessential man who had arrived
  • he had done everything
  • there were no more ladders left to climb
  • he had arrived

  • now please open your Bibles to Ecclesiastes
  • if you open your Bibles to the middle and go two books east, or toward the end, you will find this jewel of a book
  • we're going to look at just the first two verses this morning
  • from now until - believe it or not - the end of July, we're going to deal with the bottom-line issues of life

  • you see, Ecclesiastes is more than an interesting exhibit in a religious museum
  • is has a message for us in the 20th century as well
  • the world in which Solomon lived two thousand years ago has not changed too much
  • they had injustice to the poor; we have injustice to the poor
  • we have crooked politics; they had crooked politics
  • they had incompetent leaders; we have - well, make up you own mind
  • back then guilty people were allowed to commit more crime; nothing has changed
  • they had materialism; we had materialism
  • back then, some people longed for "the good old days," - today, I still hear some people wishing for "the good old days"

  • what's more, we haven't changed very much
  • Solomon was on a quest to live a fulfilled life, to find satisfaction in life
  • he experimented with life and tried many things we try today
  • he tried pleasure - we try pleasure
  • he tried wealth - we dream about wealth
  • he tried education - we think education will help us "arrive"
  • we desire social prestige; so did Solomon

  • many of us think, "If only..."
  • "If only I could live a life of pleasure!"
  • "If only I could get that next degree!"
  • "If only I could get a better spouse!" or "any spouse"
  • "If only my career was going better"

  • Solomon tried all these things
  • and he was the ideal person to write this book, because he possessed all the wealth, wisdom, and opportunities to carry out these "experiments"
  • by the way, the word "Ecclesiastes" means a person who calls an assembly
  • usually it means a person who has called an assembly and presents a topic, and discusses it from many viewpoints, and then comes to a practical conclusion
  • are you ready for this?

  • let's get our toes wet this morning by looking at his thesis
  • we're going to wade in deeper next week, but this morning we'll get his main idea for the entire book
  • it's found at the beginning of Ecclesiastes
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:1) The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:2) "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:3) What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
  • just in case we miss this thesis, he puts it again near the end of his book
  • (Ecclesiastes 12:8) "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!"

  • let's do what Warren Wiersbe does in his introduction to Ecclesiastes and get our feet wet by looking at each of the phrases in this thesis
  • PHRASE NUMBER ONE: "MEANINGLESS! MEANINGLESS! UTTERLY MEANINGLESS! EVERYTHING IS MEANINGLESS!"
  • some translations say:
  • KJV (Ecclesiastes 1:2) Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
  • NCV (Ecclesiastes 1:2) The Teacher says, "Useless! Useless! Completely useless! Everything is useless."

  • meaningless; vanity; useless - quite a description of life!
  • you need to know that in Hebrews, if a word is repeated even once, it is for added emphasis
  • here the word is repeated five times in the same verse
  • it means "everything is really, really, really, really, completely, and totally meaningless, useless!"
  • the word in Hebrew literally means "empty; unsatisfactory; futile"
  • it is similar to vapor, which disappears quickly, leaves nothing behind, and does not satisfy
  • one professor defined this word as "whatever is left after you break a soap bubble"

  • what a conclusion for Solomon to make!
  • the word "meaningless" is repeated over 30 times in Ecclesiastes
  • what Solomon is saying is that when he considers his wealth, his works, his wisdom - everything - he comes to this conclusion:
  • (Ecclesiastes 2:11) Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

  • now, let's pause for a second
  • Stephen Covey says that many people are climbing the ladders of success, but when they get to the top, they will find that the ladders are leaning against the wrong walls
  • in other words, many of us are frantic pursuing the things that Solomon did - careers, success, money, pleasure
  • but at the end of his life, Solomon could say, "All of this is meaningless!"

  • I turn thirty this year
  • according to my pension statement, I will retire on August 1, 2032
  • that means that if God spares me, I have thirty-five more years of ministry left in me
  • and hopefully a few years after that to spend as Bill does - basically retired, a "man of leisure"
  • how good it is for someone like me, who is still relatively young, to learn that many of the things I will be tempted to chase after are basically meaningless; unsatisfactory; empty
  • some of you are younger than me; some of you are quite a bit older
  • you need to hear the words of Solomon who did many of these things and found that ultimately, they don't deliver the lasting satisfaction that they promise
  • one man described life as a "blister on top of a tumor, and a boil on top of that"
  • Solomon would ultimately agree with that assessment
  • with one caveat to this, and we're about to find out what it is

  • PHRASE NUMBER TWO: "UNDER THE SUN"
  • (Ecclesiastes 1:3) What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
  • Solomon defines his terms of reference: he is looking at life "under the sun"
  • this phrase occurs twenty-nine times in Ecclesiastes, along with the phrase "under heaven"
  • basically Solomon is looking at life from a human perspective, not from heaven's point of view
  • he is examining life merely at a human level
  • we have to remember as we read Ecclesiastes that most of the time, he is reflecting life apart from God

  • G. Campbell Morgan writes:
  • This man had been living through all these experiences under the sun, concerned with nothing above the sun...until there came a moment in which he had seen the whole of life. And there was something over the sun. It is only as man takes account of that which is over the sun as well as that which is under the sun that things under the sun are seen in their true light.

  • now I'll give you a hint as to one of the applications of this book
  • life only makes sense with God

  • a few years ago there was this slogan that Coca Cola used, "Things go better with Coke"
  • let me rephrase this statement to reflect one of the truths of Ecclesiastes: "Life goes better with God"
  • in fact, life only makes sense with God
  • apart from God, from an "under the sun" perspective, life is utterly futile, empty, and meaningless
  • we need God and a personal relationship with his Son in order for life to make any sense

  • let's get real: a lot of people, including you and me, are on the search for a life filled with satisfaction and purpose
  • we tend to look in all the wrong places
  • I guarantee there are people in your office and neighborhoods that are looking for God and don't know it
  • they are sensing that their lives are empty and futile and meaningless, and they are searching for something to fill that void
  • they are looking for pleasure or achievement to fill this void, but the message of Ecclesiastes is that only God can fill this void
  • Bill Hybels has recently come out with a book called "The God You're Looking For"
  • I like that title
  • a lot of people are looking for God and don't even know it

  • in the end, friends, only God can truly bring satisfaction and purpose in life
  • (Psalms 37:4) Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  • we delight in God and only then do we find the satisfaction and true, lasting pleasure that we are looking for
  • a pleasure that satisfies more deeply than anyone or anything else ever could
  • a pleasure and satisfaction that cannot be taken away

  • these are the two phrases that set the tone of this book
  • this is the thesis of the book of Ecclesiastes: life apart from God is futile, empty, and unsatisfactory
  • only God can satisfy the deep desires of the heart
  • all else is meaningless

  • we're going to dive head-first into Ecclesiastes next week, but for this morning I want to give you three assignments:
  • FIRST, OPEN YOUR LIFE
  • this is a great time to begin examining your life to see the bottom line balance
  • the book of Ecclesiastes is going to be wasted on you if you don't submit your heart and life for inspection to this book
  • I'm asking you to examine your lives these next weeks, and see if you are really living the life of satisfaction that you think you are

  • SECOND, INVITE A FRIEND
  • Augustine said that we all have a God-shaped vacuum in our lives
  • in other words, everyone is looking for God, but not everyone knows it
  • your friends who don't know God are looking for something in their lives and they haven't found it yet
  • Ecclesiastes is the perfect book for them
  • I ask you to think of creative ways to either invite them here or to share what we'll discover in the book of Ecclesiastes

  • THIRD, DELIGHT IN GOD
  • ultimately, our lives are meaningless apart from God
  • we'll discover why later
  • but take my word for it this morning: life apart from God is utterly meaningless
  • only as we find our delight and satisfaction in God are we truly satisfied

  • we'll dive in next week
  • but let's express our satisfaction in God right now by singing a song that expresses this so well - "As the deer pants for the water"

The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-21)

  • you might remember that some time ago, we began looking at the Holy Spirit
  • the Holy Spirit is that remarkable gift given to every believer at the moment of their conversion
  • when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit at conversion, we receive spiritual power in our lives
  • he fills us, purifies us, illumines, empowers, preserves, and gifts us

  • but there's one thing we haven't talked about yet
  • and we can't complete our look at the Holy Spirit without talking about the fruit of the Holy Spirit
  • God wants to lead us into a spiritual orchard of fruit that the Holy Spirit will produce in us if we submit to his filling and control
  • but it's not automatic
  • there are many Christians who have been baptized in the Spirit and are indwelt by the Spirit, yet they have never experienced all the Spirit's benefits
  • if there's anything we need to understand in order to live the victorious Christian life, it is the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit
  • and when the Holy Spirit indwells us, certain things begin to appear in our lives, just as fruit appears in an orchard
  • these things called the fruit of the Spirit are the distinguishing marks of the Spirit's influence in our lives

  • but many Christians never experience the fruit of the Spirit
  • the Galatians are an example
  • please open your Bibles to Galatians 3
  • (Galatians 3:1) You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
  • (Galatians 3:2) I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
  • (Galatians 3:3) Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
  • the Galatians had made a serious mistake
  • they were trying to live the Christian life using the power of human effort
  • through the power of the flesh

  • you don't have to be very smart to realize that this is a losing proposition
  • it is literally impossible to live the Christian life in the power of the flesh
  • if you try to lead a Christian life using your own best efforts and on your own strength, listen right now: you are doomed
  • there is no way for you to succeed
  • the Bible teaches that the flesh refers to our human nature and its unregenerate weakness
  • according to the Bible, our flesh has inherited a sinful nature from Adam
  • we completely lack spiritual good before God, and we are totally unable to do any spiritual good before God
  • in other words, our efforts to please God by our own efforts in our own sinful nature are completely inadequate
  • the flesh cannot please God

  • in Galatia, some teachers had convinced believers that the way to please God was by taming the flesh and making it behave by their own self-will and discipline
  • they were substituting rules for a relationship with the Holy Spirit
  • and Paul says, "You crazy Galatians!...Only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God"
  • it's impossible to live the Christian life on our own efforts

  • we need the Spirit
  • the Spirit is better than the law, because as important as the law is, it only tells us what we're doing wrong
  • have you ever been pulled over by a police officer for driving within the speed limit?
  • the police officer stops you and says, "Good day. I just noticed that you were observing the speed limit, and I want to thank you for obeying the law"
  • no, the laws and the police are only there to give you a hard time when you disobey the law
  • and it's the same way with the law of God
  • the law does not give us power to please God, it only points out when we're disobeying
  • but the Spirit helps us to please God

  • so let's look at the spiritual fruit that comes when we live the Christian life in the power of the Spirit
  • turn to Galatians 5
  • before giving us a juicy, sweet, satisfying taste of the fruit of the Spirit, Paul whets our appetite by giving us a taste of the dry, rotten, and unsatisfying deeds of the flesh
  • look at verses 19-21
  • these are the deeds of the flesh
  • these are the vices of the flesh
  • these are the mess we're in within the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Tony Evans splits this list into three categories
  • first, you have moral sins
  • (Galatians 5:19) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery
  • sexual immorality is the satisfaction of our sexual desires by either sexual contact with another person outside the boundary of heterosexual marriage, or feeding ourselves with illegitimate sexual material
  • it's what one person calls "repetitive, loveless, cheap sex"
  • it's sexual acts we know aren't right; either in reality or in our minds
  • the word "impurity" has to do with the stuff that oozes from a sore; it refers to a thought life that is putrid and contaminated
  • it's what the same person calls "a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage"
  • debauchery refers to a wild, unruly lifestyle that is unrestrained and out of control

  • second, you have not only moral sins but you have religious sins
  • (Galatians 5:20) idolatry and witchcraft;
  • idolatry is worshiping other gods
  • I hope none of us have idols, but anything that replaces the place of God in our lives is an idol
  • it can include such things as worship of material possessions
  • we can even live in our idols or ride in them
  • they can be our cars or our houses or our bank accounts
  • and witchcraft refers to the practice of magic and involvement with forbidden practices such as spiritualism, fortune-telling, and astrology

  • third, you have social sins
  • (Galatians 5:20) hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
  • (Galatians 5:21) and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
  • this is the longest list; how we relate to others
  • you know, not many Christians take hits of crack cocaine to get high, but how many of us are guilty of "outbursts of anger?"
  • how many of us experience characters of hostility, grudge-bearing, and less than loving thoughts?
  • how many of us have disputes with our spouses or others?
  • how many of us have what Paul calls "selfish ambition"
  • not to mention drunkenness and the life-style of the wild party?

  • okay, let's change the subject
  • this is getting a little too convicting
  • but the deeds of the flesh do include not only sexual sins and religious sins, but also outbursts of anger and selfish ambition
  • these are what Paul identifies as the deeds of the flesh

  • now that we've tasted this dry, rotten, and unsatisfying deeds of the flesh, let's stroll over to the juicy, sweet, and satisfying fruit of the Spirit
  • in this orchard we will see fruit that evidence the Spirit's working in our lives
  • this spiritual fruit will be visible to others
  • it will bless others and as Bernard says, "make their day"
  • Paul lists nine flavors of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, beginning in verse 22:
  • (Galatians 5:22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
  • (Galatians 5:23) gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

  • for the rest of this message, let's examine the fruit of the Spirit in each of its flavors
  • this is the sort of quality that will be displayed in our lives as we submit to the Spirit
  • the fruit of the Spirit is uncommon and extraordinary

  • Paul says the fruit o f the Spirit is love
  • this is a transcendent love that rises above commonplace natural affection
  • it is the ability to seek the highest good for other people, regardless of their response
  • it is selfless love; the ability to show love to even our enemies
  • natural love says, "You aren't being loving to me, so I won't show any love to you"
  • the Spirit says, "Even if you are not loving me, I will show you what real love looks like"
  • love transcends natural affection; it flows from a heart that has been changed by the Holy Spirit

  • the fruit of the Spirit is also joy
  • happiness has to do with circumstances on the outside, but joy has to do with a well of living water on the inside
  • this is not the joy that comes when our favorite sports team wins a title, or when something good happens
  • it is a joy that is transcendent, and born of blessedness
  • joy turns a bad situation into a playground; it is inner stability regardless of external circumstances
  • the joy of the Spirit pervades and penetrates the soul

  • the fruit of the Holy Spirit is also peace
  • peace is our inheritance from the Prince of Peace
  • it goes beyond any peace this world can offer
  • it is an inner peace, a peace that passes understanding
  • it is a peace with God
  • it is peace with our brothers and our sisters

  • the fruit of the Spirit is also patience
  • the Spirit gives us a long fuse, and removes a vengeful spirit from us
  • it mirrors the character of God, who has no explosive tantrums
  • God is slow to anger, and endures the insult and malice of others
  • and God gives us this ability to be patient

  • the fruit of the Spirit is kindness
  • Jesus was strong and tender
  • he was not harsh; he never broke a bruised reed
  • Jesus kept his authority and power in check; he did not crush the weak
  • instead, he was thoughtful and kind, tempering justice with mercy
  • the Spirit produces kindness in our lives, the ability to think of how we can help others

  • the fruit of the Spirit is goodness
  • goodness refers to a basic personal integrity

  • and the fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness
  • the ability to believe in God, and to be faithful and consistent in our lifestyle

  • and the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness
  • the ability to be humble and to resist arrogance
  • to be graceful to others

  • lastly, the fruit of the Spirit is self-control
  • the Spirit gives us the ability to resist violence, crudeness, rudeness, and pushiness
  • instead, we are self-controlled, moderate, able to resist wrong and submit to what is right

  • this is the fruit of the Spirit
  • these are the genuine marks of godliness, the virtues we see manifested in mature believers
  • these are the virtues that the Spirit cultivates in our lives, not arising from our own righteousness, but because, as Augustine put it, "God is pleased to crown his own gifts"
  • we are incapable of displaying these gifts without the power of the Spirit

  • how can we experience this spiritual harvest of fruit?
  • (Galatians 5:24) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
  • (Galatians 5:25) Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
  • the answer is that we give our lives to Christ, and have our sinful nature crucified with Christ
  • that happens when we become believers
  • and once we become Christians, that we keep in step with the Spirit, that we walk in line with the Spirit
  • this underscores the importance of a life of dependence and submission to the Holy Spirit, a life that is driven by prayer
  • listen to what Charles Stanley writes:
  • "The Spirit-filled life begins once we are absolutely and thoroughly convinced that we can do nothing apart from the indwelling strength of the Holy Spirit...The Spirit-filled life begins with an overwhelming realization that we are absolutely helpless and hopeless apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit...[Until then], we will always be out there doing things for God in our own strength"
  • let me ask you, have you reached that point of total dependence in your life?
  • that without God's help, you can do nothing

  • until we surrender to the Spirit's control in our lives, until we come to the place in which we give everything over to him, and remember, do this continually - we won't be filled with the Spirit
  • remember, to be filled with the Spirit means that we are controlled by the Spirit
  • in order to be controlled by the Spirit, we have to surrender everything to him
  • one way to know if we are keeping in step with the Spirit is to look at our prayer lives
  • if we don't pray, we are leaving the Spirit out of our lives
  • but if we do pray, we know we are truly walking in our lives in step with the Spirit
  • friends, the Holy Spirit is not an nice addendum to the Christian faith
  • he is at the heart and core of it
  • if we are going to have our lives transformed, we can't do it on our own strength
  • we need the power of the Holy Spirit

  • as we conclude this series, I'm asking you to give control of your life to the Holy Spirit
  • you are a lousy producer of spiritual fruit
  • we all are
  • but as we submit to the Holy Spirit, we will produce the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that we need
  • we need to begin each day with a commitment to walk in the Spirit
  • we need to set our minds on things that are above
  • we need total surrender; to raise the white flag and move over from the driver's seat so the Spirit can take control
  • only then can he take control
  • and then we can begin to experience, and enjoy, the fruit of the Spirit

  • Father,
  • many of us are perhaps displaying the deeds of the flesh
  • our morality is less than perfect
  • we struggle sexually; our thoughts are impure and immoral
  • we have other material gods before you
  • we have short fuses and we are selfish and vengeful

  • we want to live for Jesus
  • we want love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
  • this will only take place as we surrender and depend on you in everything