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Living a Good Life: Chasing After Wind, Part 2

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
January 25, 2024 10:00 am

Living a Good Life: Chasing After Wind, Part 2

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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January 25, 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. This is part two of a study on Ecclesiastes 2, 1-11 from the series titled, Living a Good Life, Making Sense of the Journey. It was first preached on March 4th, 2018 at Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. James tells us what all good gifts come from above, don't 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.

Those are not bad things. Those are the fact that you and I are created in the image of God that we experience pleasure in these things. And we experience that pleasure when we experience them as they were purposed. But these things were intended to be neither the end nor the means to an end.

And what did Solomon do? Pleasure was his end. Pleasure was his highest objective.

And he says, all of these things I'm going to amass to myself and I'm going to experience everything, the full gamut of human experience so that I can get that sense of pleasure. And they become vanity when we give them the wrong place and the wrong purpose in our lives. That is how we become idolaters. That is how we become worshippers of false gods. It helps us understand what worship truly is. Because pleasures that are good, if we misplace them, then they become pursuits that are idolatrous, pursuits that are idolatrous.

Again, 1 Kings 11, it says of Solomon, 700 wives, 700 concubines, they turned his heart away from the Lord. And that question that he asked right at the beginning of this chapter, verse 2, I said of laughter, it is mad and of pleasure. What use is it?

What use is it? Remember that question. Because pleasure can very easily become an idol of your heart and if it does, it will leave you wanting. If pleasure is your highest objective, if it is your chief end.

It is very easy for us to do this when we think we are in control. Well, I will be the master of my destiny. I will pursue pleasure, whatever I need to, to fill up my senses so that my life is indeed pleasurable. And those pleasures, again, became distractions and diversions so that he is not having to deal with the inevitability of the end of his life.

Life is short. And this is what the prophet Ezekiel calls in Ezekiel 14, idols of the heart. This pleasure, this pursuit of pleasure as the end in itself and we use the things as a pursuit of pleasure.

How do I know when something becomes an idol of my heart? There are two questions that you need to ask yourself. What will you do to acquire them or to keep them? Are you willing to injure people? Are you willing to abuse?

Are you willing to use people? Are you willing to cut them? Are you willing to sin, to acquire or keep this thing that ostensibly fills up your senses?

Second question, what place in your life have you given them? Are they the end for you? Are they the means to an end for you?

Then it has become an idol of your heart. Jeremiah chapter 10 says that these things are not only an idol, but they are a delusion. They are a delusion. And he says they are a delusion that you worship. A delusion that you worship. We give them the place of that which motivates and drives and controls and satisfies.

They are the central, the center of that diagram on the other side of your notes. Pleasure is at the center or something else is at the center of that diagram and that is what you're pursuing. Listen, what is at the center of that diagram is what you worship. And you may not be consciously thinking that I'm going to worship this.

And it's very possible for you to say I worship God, but you have something else at the center of that diagram. It could be a relationship. It could be a project. It could be pleasure. And what is at the center of that diagram is what motivates you. It's what you serve. It's what you devote yourself to. It's what you believe will satisfy you. It's what you worship. And Solomon put pleasure on the throne. And Jeremiah says that this is a delusion that we worship. Very interestingly, the psalmist Psalm 115 and 135 say, and this is key, understand this, okay? You become like what you worship. And if there is a delusion on the throne at the center of your life, you become like what you worship. What you devote yourself to, what you look to for your meaning, your satisfaction.

What you think will bring you ultimate permanent novelty. Lorene Scott was a 49 year old designer in New York City. She was Mick Jagger's girlfriend.

If you're under 40, you probably have no clue who that is. To look at her carefully crafted Instagram feed, Lorene Scott was a one percenter, a gold plated member of the international elite. There she was on vacation in India at a retreat on the island of Mustique, about to board a chartered helicopter or a lounging pool site in gold jewelry and designer sunglasses, or stretched out on a private plane using her 5000 Louis Vuitton handbag as a footrest. She had it all, so it seemed. And then on Monday, March 19th, 2014, she committed suicide, hanging herself in her five million dollar apartment.

Within hours, Scott's life was revealed to have become an elaborate facade. Her business, at least six million dollars in debt, her fashion world, friends and celebrity clientele, utterly unaware of her despair. A stylist in New York for celebrities like Lorene said, ironically, last week, I said to three different people, I wish I had her life. Look at her.

She's always somewhere fabulous and fancy. And there it is. There it is. See what's at the center, that fantasy, that celebrity. That's why we're so fascinated with celebrities today. You know what fascinates me is the fascination that people have with the Kardashians. Oh, I don't get it.

Yes, I do. You know what I get? People fantasize about having everything. Beauty, wealth. You know why they fantasize about that? Because that's what's on the throne. That's what's at the center of their lives.

If I had that, I would be happy. It's a delusion. This is what Solomon teaches us here. It's a delusion.

The lure of addictions, whether visual or physical, lead us to consume and to need more. To believe that this object that I am pursuing will provide me permanent novelty. And I will be happy and live happily ever after.

We don't really think that, but that's in the back of our minds. Whatever we have our focus on will help me live happily ever after. You see, Solomon tasted all the best that life had to offer and was left wondering what comes next. He experienced the full extent, the full extent of life under the sun.

So what comes next? You see that full extent of life that he was grasping, that pleasure that he was grasping for, it all slipped right through his hands. Look at verse 11 with me.

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended on doing it. And behold, all was vanity and striving after the wind and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Why would he say that? When God gives us good things to enjoy and He designed us for pleasure, why would a man say this?

Because it took the wrong place in his life. These were his pursuit. These were the objects of his worship. These are what he devoted himself to.

These are what he looked to for his pleasure and satisfaction. And so what is he doing? He's pondering the void.

He's pondering the void. I considered it all and it was all vanity. That's the futility of idolatry.

I created my own. This work of my hands was my object of worship. I created my own purpose. I pursued pleasure for myself in the works of my hands. And so here he is in verse 11 pondering the void. He steps back and he looks at everything.

He had a mask for himself and he says all that pleasure just slips right off the throne. We're so glad you've 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 Rich's book, Seven Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from God's 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 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-19 12:56:57 / 2024-02-19 13:01:15 / 4

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