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Living a Good Life: Chasing After Wind, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2024 10:00 am

Living a Good Life: Chasing After Wind, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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January 24, 2024 10:00 am

In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon says that he denied his heart no pleasure.  The result? Nothing was gained.  It was a chasing after wind.  Pleasure is a poor substitute for our hearts greatest need. 

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon says that he denied his heart no pleasure. The result? Nothing was gained.

It was a chasing after wind. Pleasure is a poor substitute for our heart's greatest need. As Blaise Pascal said, this infinite abyss can only be filled with an infinite and immutable object. In other words, God himself.

Let's listen in. What do you get a man that has everything? One thing you can get him is a treadmill. It's interesting to find out where things came from, a treadmill. Did you know that that started out as a instrument of punishment?

It did, really. They would have it in prisons. And it was first called the tread wheel, where a prisoner would just walk and walk, and he would expend hard energy on an incline for hours a day. And the part that was punishment about it was that he would spend all day doing all that hard work, knowing that at the end of the day, he accomplished nothing. That's exactly what Solomon is teaching us through this portion of Ecclesiastes. Solomon, a man who had everything, and he had great wisdom, too. But listen, just because you have wisdom doesn't mean you use wisdom.

Right? You can have a tool and not use it. So, what Solomon is going to do is he is trying to figure out what is the meaning, what is the purpose. I want something truly satisfying, something that is truly lasting in this life. And so, he says at the beginning of chapter 2, Come now, I will test you. Test what? My heart. My heart, the seat of thought and desire.

I will test you with pleasure and joy yourself. So, what is he setting out to do? Hedonism. What is hedonism? Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure.

Hedonism is sensual indulgence, and by sensual, it means filling up your senses. Everything about it, taste, touch, hearing, and he does all of that. And this is what Solomon was trying to do. Because he is looking for something permanent, something lasting. To bring him that sense of meaning and satisfaction in life. And truthfully, what he is doing here is heaping up diversions and distractions from the one certain thing that is coming, and that is his death. And so, what does he pursue? As we are going to go through this, these first eight verses here, first nine verses, here are the things that he pursued. But a chief in his pursuit was pleasure. That was at the center, that was at the core of everything.

Pleasure. And the first thing that he pursued was partying. It was play. It was entertainment. He pursued entertainment.

He put these grand parties together, holding nothing back. He said, I said of laughter, it is mad and of pleasure, what use is it? Hang on to that question.

That is a really good question. What use is it? I searched with my heart how to chair 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 of the children of men to do under heaven during the few days of his life. So he pursued entertainment. In other words, you know what is funny? I was coming back from a lunch meeting and right in front of us was this car with a bumper sticker. And the bumper sticker said, if it is not fun, why do it?

That is the theme of today, isn't it? A whole generation that has grown up with only one responsibility, and that is to have fun. If it is not fun, why do it? What that means is that entertainment has become the chief value. I will do something if it has an element of entertainment to it.

That is what attracts me. Because if there is something that is required, something that I am invited to, and I don't really see any entertainment in it for me, then I am not going to do it. That is why this generation has such a hard time doing hard things. Because there is no entertainment in that. But entertainment has become the primary measure of value.

Every experience has to be highly entertaining, or I won't waste my time with it. And this is what Solomon was pursuing here. We find this in verses 2 and 3. And when that novelty wore off, what did he go on to next?

Look at verse 4. I made great works. I built houses. I planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks and planted them all kinds of fruit trees.

I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. Projects. He busied himself with projects. He pursued pleasure with projects.

Property. Envision this huge plantation, this grand estate with majestic buildings and parks and trees and pools and fruit trees. He says, I will pursue pleasure with that. That is going to be my pleasure, my means to pleasure. And surely, when I have this grand estate, I will feel full of pleasure. I will feel satisfied. And then, when he goes on from that, verse 7, I bought male and female slaves.

I mean, somebody has to keep the grounds, right? I bought male and female slaves, and slaves were born in my house. Means he had them for a while. Families growing and had great possessions and hurt. So projects.

And then after the projects wore out, then he went on to possessions. People and things. People and things to serve me for my pleasure. I will pursue people.

I will pursue things to fill me up for my pleasure. Great possessions. And he had them. He had everything that a man could desire.

You could also continue in verse 8, I also gathered for myself silver and gold, the treasure of kings and provinces. And then he says, I got singers, both men and women. Singers, performers. For some people, they cannot exist, they cannot operate without their music. And so he says, I'm going to surround myself with music, because music is inherently pleasurable. And so I'm going to fill my life up with music and keep these performers so that whenever I want pleasure, I'm going to tell the performers to sing and they will sing and fill my heart with pleasure. But then he also says, I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. Many concubines. So people, not only as performers, but also people for physical pleasure.

And he did. He pursued it as far as a man could go, physical pleasure. Using people for his own physical pleasure. If you read 1 Kings chapter 11, it says, Solomon, remember, he was a man that was given unprecedented wisdom and wealth. Remember what I said about wisdom? It's a tool.

Just because you have it doesn't mean you're using it. And so what did he do? 1 Kings 11 tells us that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Kept that fresh supply of young, attractive women coming. And the next one he saw, oh, you make me happy.

Do you know there are people that get married on that line today? He makes me happy. No, he doesn't. It's a fantasy. Because that happiness is going to wear off. That novelty is going to wear off. And it did for Solomon. That's why he ended up with 700 wives and 300 concubines. You see that next beautiful young thing that comes along, oh, she makes me happy. And that one wears out.

Let's go on to the next one. Do you know what it says about the wives in 1 Kings 11, 700? They were princesses.

And we get that, don't we? You know, this handsome young man marries this princess. And Disney tells us they live happily ever after. Didn't happen. Didn't happen.

Clearly not. That's the power of fantasy. We imagine permanent novelty. That's what fantasy does. Permanent novelty. And if you get your thrills out of looking at beautiful young things on the screen today, that's how it keeps you coming back.

Because it keeps feeding your fantasy of permanent novelty. And it's all fantasy. Solomon knew that very well. So what did he do after that? The delight of the sons of men, verse 9, so I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. Whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure.

I kept my heart from no pleasure. In other words, prestige, his pursuit of prestige, he was at the top of the list. And he says, surely if I become the greatest, the first, the best, the most whatever, then I will have great pleasure in knowing that I have reached the apex. And he did, he reached the apex in pursuit of pleasure. And he says, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. So he got there. Whatever he wanted, he got it. He pursued it. And it was all in pursuit of pleasure.

Is there anything wrong with that? Well, I want you to know something. There are pleasures that are good. God intended us for pleasure. God intended us for his pleasure. And as we look at this, at the end of verse 10, he says, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. My heart found pleasure. Did you know that God created these things for us to experience pleasure?

So rich, so whatís wrong with what Solomon did? You see, these things are not bad. James tells us what all good gifts come from above, donít they?

They do. All good gifts come from above. God has given us these things to enjoy indeed. There is pleasure in accomplishing something. There is pleasure in creating and building something. There is pleasure in many of the experiences of our lives. Food, beauty, goodness, all of those bring pleasure, and there is pleasure in experiencing them. Weíre so glad youíve joined us for Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. You can hear this message and others anytime by visiting our website, www.delightingrace.com. You can also check out Pastor Richís book, Seven Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from Godís Word the very purpose for which you were designed. Seven Words That Can Change Your Life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight in Grace, weekdays at 10 AM.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-24 12:16:26 / 2024-01-24 12:21:17 / 5

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