Week 24 – Be Satisfied with God
Prayer – Our Father, we love You and ask that You would open our eyes to see the magnitude of Your glory, open our hearts to feel the weight of our sin and Your grace, and open our mouths to tell the wonder of Your redemptive Story. In Jesus Name Amen
Every day I share several Bible verses with my two sons, usually separately. One of several verses is their life verse, another one is the verse that I personally am memorizing for the week, and then the rest come from a collection of verses that I want to share with them over and over knowing that in the future conversations will occur. In fact, those conversations have already started with Roman. After sharing the Bible verses I pray with them and incorporate the verses I just shared in the prayer. This allows me to keep my prayers fresh along with modeling to my kids to pray God’s Word. Now I tell you all this because this past week we read Proverbs 30:7-9
which is one of the verses I share. It says: (show slide 2) I wonder if you have ever prayed that before for yourself or your family. Without question that prayer goes against the flow of what many parents desire for their children in our culture of accumulation and consumption.
Now the man God used to inspire this prayer is named Agur. I mentioned 2 weeks ago that God used the wisest person who has and will ever live, Solomon, to write most of Proverbs. We do not know much about this man, Agur, except God had a relationship with him, he loved God’s Word, and he liked lists as Ch. 30 of Proverbs has plenty. We also know from his prayer that he probably experienced a satisfying life with God as he participated in the only story that matters, God’s. If you and I are not living in God’s story then this prayer will not make sense as to why to pray this for anyone. Or if we do pray it – it may be out of guilt or obligation since it is in the Bible but secretly we hope God does not answer it but instead answers our other prayers like: “God, give me more stuff to make life easier, convenient, more comfortable for myself and so that my kids can have more than what I did as a child.” So reading a prayer like Proverbs 30:8-9
raises up the question: (show slide 3) What is the meaning or purpose of life?
The good news today is that there is a book in the O.T. that was written to answer that question. It is called Ecclesiastes which those of you who are reading the whole Bible in one year read this past week. It is a book that is often neglected and misunderstood by Christians. It is common for Christians to read this and think this author totally gets how I think and feel about life. Those who are optimistic about life have yet to truly experience life for if they did they would be more cynical and pessimistic. Or people read it and wonder why does this book belong in the Bible because it is so discouraging to read? You wonder what happened in the author, Solomon’s life, to make him so depressed. So if you have your Bibles turn to Ecclesiastes where we will begin reading in v. 1 of Ch.1. If you forgot your Bibles I encourage you to bring it next week. Until then we are reading on pg. 582 in the Bibles in your seat pockets. Read vv. 1-2.
Maybe we should just close in prayer and get lunch early. JNow the word ‘meaningless’ appears 38 times throughout the book. So Solomon with all of his wisdom, riches, knowledge, and life experiences concludes life is pointless. I mean how can one person make a difference among 7 billion? Life goes on whether you try to change it or not? So then do you and I really matter? Solomon goes on to elaborate this point with a question to the reader in v. 3. Read. The answers people offer up often are: a car, a house, money, happiness, or a certain lifestyle. What would your response be? Solomon’s answer to all is in vv. 4-18. Read. Solomon would say what do you really get from your labors? If the answer is stuff then Solomon would follow up and say: what happens when it breaks, gets old, or can no longer be used? Whether you replace it, put it in storage, or give it to someone that may not use it or care for it like you did, where is the meaning in that? Conclusion - life is meaningless.
In v. 9 is a phrase you may have heard before, “there is nothing new under the sun.” While Solomon does not directly define ‘under the sun’ He does imply in the 29 times he uses it in the book to (show slide 4) represent all the ways humanity seeks after happiness through possessions, pleasures, and people. This is why Solomon says life under the sun gives a taste of pleasure but it vanishes away. Or you seek to make sense of this life under the sun but the more knowledge you get the more grief and questions you will have. So life under the sun reveals the world’s brokenness and if a person has yet to embrace the answer to what is the purpose of life then it will lead to the conclusion that life is meaningless so just try to create as many of the vanishing moments of pleasure and happiness you can experience in this life under the sun.
However, woven throughout this whole book is a very fascinating set up. Only a brilliant writer could pull it off and Solomon does. In fact, Solomon does such a great job that some Christians themselves have been convinced that being pessimistic and cynical about life is the biblical view to embrace. But Solomon throughout the book baits us with the idea that something is up. So how does Solomon do it? He disguises himself as someone who believes that life is indeed meaningless. He writes from personal experiences and it does seem that earlier in Solomon’s life he believed this since much of his life he did not walk in the wisdom God gave him. But now Solomon gives us hints throughout the book that life is not meaningless as many believe then and now. Perhaps you may want to re-read Ecclesiastes again this week to see how many hints you find. Then at the end Solomon springs the trap and announces the answer to the purpose of life that many search for but few actually find. So let’s turn to Ch. 3 to read one of the more obvious hints Solomon gives to his audience. Let’s read v. 11.
There is something in the human heart, regardless of religion, that longs for something beyond this life. People can try to reason it away, can get mad at God or the church, but the longing won’t go away. Why? (show slide 5) God has stamped eternity on the human heart. This means you and everyone matters. Therefore, life has meaning not only beyond the sun but even under the sun as God is making things beautiful. Let’s keep readingby turning to read Solomon’s summation of the whole book in v. 13 of Ch. 12. Read. Fear God and obey His commandments. That is the purpose and meaning of life under the sun according to the wisest person who has ever lived. Perhaps you can hear God speak to you through Solomon’s words saying give your life to that. Remember my commandments are there to show My greatness to the world through the obedience of My people. This involves sacrifice not accumulation. This involves being satisfied with Your Creator rather than seeking satisfaction with the things God created under the sun. It appears Agur, the one who prayed Proverbs 30:7-9
understood all that and so a prayer of contentment naturally flowed from him. A prayer that understands life has meaning under the sun only because it begins and ends - and everything in between with God. Now up on the screen is Jesus’ summation of the book of Ecclesiastes. Mark 8:36
says: (show slide 6) “What good is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Jesus’ words echo Solomon’s, trying to find purpose and meaning in the visible life under the sun is meaningless, it is chasing the wind, grasping at nothing. But if you lose your life for God’s sake then you will experience life-giving satisfaction in this life and the next because what you have and will always have is God. So what are you chasing after to bring you satisfaction in life?
Now I want to say 4 things to 4 different groups of people here today. The first group are singles. (show slide 7) Do not embrace the lie that if you can just the find the right person or the right career you will find meaning in life and everything will be right in your world. That myth is chasing after the wind and therefore wasting some of the best years of your life. God has created you for a significant purpose and that will go beyond life under the sun. And once you discover God and His purpose pour yourself into that and you will be satisfied in God. Second group are parents. (show slide 8) Do not trade the enjoyment of your children for a job or for stuff to give them. These things will not last in this life under the sun. Live a Story that shows your children God’s story is 1) much bigger than they are and 2) will outlive them because the story is beyond life under the sun. What an opportunity parents have. Don’t miss it.
Third group are those who are retired or plan on retiring soon then. (show slide 9) Do not disappear into your retirement. You are the living illustration that life and its stuff are fleeting. People need you. Without you people in younger generations will likely chase after the wind. Now you may think, ‘who would listen to me?’ Someone will so don’t disappear into retirement. Instead participate in activities and relational environments and pray to see who might be willing to listen to the wisdom you have to live life, even it is how not to do it which by the way is Solomon’s example to us. Now if you already involving yourself in situations but no one has come to you asking for wisdom then initiate the conversation, find opportunities to speak up. God still wants to use you for His redemptive mission. Your life still has a purpose because eternity is stamped on your heart, so don’t disappear into retirement.
The final group are those who are not yet Christians. (show slide 10) Do not keep on seeking satisfaction and fulfillment in the things you are chasing. Accept Solomon’s conclusion and fear God. Change stories from yours to God’s. His life for you is better than anything under the sun. God is worth it so fear the Lord and stop experimenting with all the answers to find meaning and purpose. Allow the book of Ecclesiastes to show you that you absolutely need to surrender your life to Jesus’ leadership and authority. So people of Sandy Ridge be satisfied with a holy fear of God and a holy amazement that God invites you into His grand story of redemption. This gives meaning and purpose to what may seem to be meaningless. God cares about this broken world. He is concerned that people, Christians and not yet Christians, are chasing after the wind. Why? They matter. You matter. We are all ever living never dying souls. At this time I invite Shirley to come and pray for us because we need it.