Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chasing Wind

M28 Charlotte started the year off with a bang...literally. Our first Big Meeting went off without a hitch and I think everyone loved having amplified sound. Worship was fantastic...I especially loved having two cellos. We had a fantastic you can sort of see from this horrid picture from last night(my camera was being moody).
It was great to see so many new faces in addition to seeing old friends once again. Several of us spent time in prayer beforehand and it was such a joy to just come together and pray for the semester...God is doing great things on campus and I think we're all just so excited to be a part of it.

Jon taught a fantastic message from the book of Ecclesiastes. Jon started off by asking us a couple of questions.
  • What makes life worth living?
  • What brings true fulfillment?
To help you out for a second, fulfillment is attaining whatever gives you happiness or purpose. Think about those questions for a second before you keep reading. Be honest with yourself. We are all on a search for fulfillment, happiness and pleasure. We pursue it, we try to buy it, we do anything we can to try to find true fulfillment.

Ecclesiastes is a book about Solomon's life. Solomon was the richest, wisest and most popular guy on the planet at the time. Think Donald Trump, Einstein and Steve Jobs all rolled into one person. Remember that as we read...
Ecclesiastes 2:1-8 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
Solomon has begun the pursuit of pleasure. He has left no stone unturned in his search
Ecclesiastes 2:10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
 Whatever he wanted, he had...parties, sex, servants, food, friends...everything. Anything that you could imagine that would bring you pleasure...Solomon had it...and had more of it than you could ever hope to afford or imagine. Don't be jealous of Solomon though...because even though he had all that money could buy, everything that anyone could ever hope for...he found that it was all vanity. It was all pointless...there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Meaning, that there is nothing in this world that will truly satisfy or fulfill or bring you true happiness. He searched the world over and couldn't find it. The only thing he found is that pleasure doesn't doesn't bring fulfillment.
Ecclesiastes 2:11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
So maybe you're thinking, "Okay, well I can see that...things break...friends leave...parties end...maybe he just needed wisdom." Well, Solomon was actually know for his wisdom...he was one of the most wise. But just to be safe, he tried wisdom too...he searched for fulfillment in knowledge and wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 2:12-17  So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

Wisdom is vanity...Solomon found that even wisdom doesn't bring fulfillment because we all meet the same end no matter fool or wise. We all die. At this, Solomon despaired because it seemed that there was no hope for fulfillment or happiness. He had one last thing to
Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
Out of even work...Solomon found that you cannot take the things you labor for with you. All possessions, progress and striving will be lost when you die. We seek pleasure, wisdom and work but none of it will fulfill's all empty - like trying to chase the wind. What would you think if every day you saw someone in your yard or neighborhood or park or work just running around all over the place literally trying to chase the wind? Would you think him a fool? Would you think he was crazy? Would you think that his life was pointless...going nowhere? When we strive for fulfillment in pleasure, wisdom and work...we are no different than that man who is chasing wind. We will not find infinite fulfillment in finite things.
Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after. 
 Generations come and go but nothing changes. You might be thinking, "Well...I'm fairly certain that Solomon wasn't using an iPad to jot down his thoughts." You'd be correct...but Solomon isn't talking about technology. He's talking about the fact that ever since the beginning of time, we've been searching for fulfillment. We've been chasing wind...not going anywhere for generations. Maybe you've found temporary fulfillment in academic success, sex or money. Maybe you feel extremely happy with that...but let me tell you, it won't give you significance or purpose. When you die, it's all gone. Sometimes, it will all be gone long before you's fleeting.

So Solomon searched the world over and couldn't find a single thing on the earth that would give him fulfillment or happiness. He found that it was all was all worthless. At the end of his search, he came to this conclusion:
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Fear God and keep his commandments...this is an eternal fulfillment. This gives us an eternal relationship with the God who made us and sustains us. God will fulfill you...everything you need is in Him! Are you running after wind or are you being fulfilled by the only one who can truly fulfill you? Don't miss the gospel in all of this.

We have searched for ages for fulfillment in the things of this world...we look among created things instead of to the creator of all things.
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 We owe God a debt...we love his stuff but we rebel against him. We put all our eggs and all our dreams into a worldly basket...we worship stuff.
Ecclesiastes 1:15 What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.
We put all our hopes and dreams and lives into crooked, worldly, lacking things instead of a perfect and infinite God.

Here's the deal though, we can't come to a place where we are seeking out God all on our own. God loves us and wants to have a right relationship with us...but because of our sin...there's a separation there. God sent his Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life in our place...he didn't stray like we do...he lived a perfect life and died on a cross to take the punishment that we deserved for our sin and rebellion. God poured out all of his anger and wrath toward sin on his own son. Jesus conquered death and sin on the cross, rose again three days later, and now reigns in Heaven at the right hand of God the Father. So what dos this have to do with us? Through repentance of our sins and faith in Jesus, we can have a right relationship with God, we can pursue fulfillment in Him rather than in chasing the wind.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
There is no way to find fulfillment or happiness or eternal life except through Jesus.
Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Through the gospel, Jesus saved you from a pointless and vain life. What a cool thought. We don't have to chase wind anymore...we can have a right relationship with God and be eternally fulfilled in him.

Please hear me, I'm not saying to quit school or quit your job or stop doing things you enjoy doing...I'm saying that ultimately, you need to make following God your first priority. If you fear God and keep his commandments, everything else will fall into place. Don't give up your responsibilities...God has you at school, at work, or wherever you are for a reason. Pursue God in your school, pursue God in your work, pursue God in everything you do and you will not live a vain life. Praise God that he rescued us from chasing wind and made a way for us to be completely fulfilled in him.

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