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Life Is Absurd … Now What?, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
October 5, 2023 9:00 am

Life Is Absurd … Now What?, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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October 5, 2023 9:00 am

Everyone wants to be happy, so why does happiness seem so elusive? Is there a secret to obtaining happiness that we’ve all been missing?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Solomon tells you that God alone gives happiness. Happiness is not some future condition.

It's found in the present. And if you're not happy now, don't look to some change in circumstance that'll make you happy. Look to your relationship to God because there is where happiness is found. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. Okay, everyone wants to be happy, right? I mean, who enjoys disappointment or sadness?

So the question we need to ask ourselves is actually this. Why does happiness often seem so elusive? Doesn't God want us to be happy?

Is there some secret to obtaining it that we've all just been missing? Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer reveals the key to contentment as we finish up our teaching series called Full of Nothing. If you've missed any of the previous messages, you can find them all free of charge at jdgreer.com.

But now let's join Pastor J.D. for the second half of a message he titled Life is Absurd, Now What? What I'm going to do in our last message here is walk you through a number, a handful of those conclusions, and then consider how the book of Ecclesiastes is advising us to live in light of those conclusions.

Here is number one. We are to seek the God who is above the heaven. Ecclesiastes 12, last chapter in the book. Now all has been heard. We're at the end. Here's the conclusion of the whole matter.

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind, for God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes point I explained last week is not to turn you into an atheist. It's not supposed, you're not supposed to read this book and be like, yeah, that's right. None of life makes sense.

It's all heaven. There is no God. Rather, his aim is to turn you into a humbler theist, somebody who believes in God, but somebody who's more humble in how you look at the world. And what he's saying to you is you got to put up your simplistic theories about God. The book of Job shows you that God is always doing something in your life. You just might not have the perspective to be able to see what it is at the moment. It's like John Piper says, at any given moment in your life, God is pursuing about 10,000 different things in you.

You're usually aware of at most three of them. The other 9,997 things that God is doing just eludes you. So number one, he says, fear God, seek the God who is above the heaven. Number two, he's going to tell us you should devote yourself, devote yourself to pursuing wisdom.

And his point here is that yes, life is not foolproof, but wisdom will still more often lead you to skill and success than foolishness will. Pursuing wisdom, therefore, should not be an afterthought that you add to your life, like a garnish on a finished meal or a religious perfume that you spray onto your life. It ought to be the very foundation of your life. It ought to be the core of all that you do. This is a recurring theme here at the Summit Church.

Know the Bible. There are some of you who, because of the uncertainty in life, you never get going in life. You never become what you could be. And Solomon is saying that at some point you just have to put it out there because you can never move forward until you take a risk. And even in the midst of uncertainty, you can trust God who promises to take care of you even in failure. So what Solomon says is live by wisdom. That's all you can do and take appropriate risks and trust that God will take care of you in success and in failure, but you got to get moving, which leads to probably the most confusing verse in all of Ecclesiastes, my personal favorite. Number four, don't be overly religious. Don't be excessively righteous, Ecclesiastes 7 16 says. And don't be overly wise.

Why should you wear yourself out? I love that verse. You could be perfect and still have things go wrong. That was the case with Job. It's even more so the case with Jesus. Second, nobody on earth could actually be sinless and the wise person recognizes thankfully that God did not condition his acceptance of us or blessing of us on our perfection.

And all the people who are wise would say, thank God for that. You see, there's a lot of people who every time something bad happens in their lives, they're like, what did I do wrong? What was God punishing me for?

What was God trying to pay me back for? That is being overly righteous. When Jesus tells us to pray like this, this isn't just a random observation about how parents respond to little children. This is the heart of the gospel.

We come to God just like we are. And we're saying, God, you saved me in this state. And God, you're going to listen to me.

And I'm not having to worry about getting myself into a place where you'll hear me. This is what Solomon is hinting at. See what he says in the next verse.

There is there is certainly no one righteous on the earth who never sins. In other words, God knows that you're sinful and good news. He chose to save you in that state. And in that state, he told you to approach him with all your junk and all you messed up dysfunctional heart.

And you could approach him with the confidence that a child approaches a parent. So what he's saying is quit trying to become something you're not and just trust in God's fatherly grace over your life. Amen. Related to this number five, number five, lay down your Messiah complex.

This is good. Chapter five says for a man, eat well and enjoy his work. Whatever his job may be for however long the Lord may let him live. In other words, listen, the Lord has a job for you. And the Lord designs you in a certain way to fulfill a certain role. He gave you spiritual gifts and a vocation, and he intends for you to do those things and do them well.

And then he wants you to enjoy your life along the way as you do it. Now, what I'm about to say is also one of those things that is not going to apply to all of you. In fact, there are exactly 17 percent of you listening to me right now who need to hear this. Only 17 percent. Okay.

And 84.2 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot. Okay. So 17 percent of you need to hear this because 17 percent of us live with the Messiah complex and we feel like, how can I ever relax? How can I enjoy life?

How could I take a vacation when there's so much to do? There was a time in my Christian life when I felt like every single cause in the kingdom of God had to be mine. Man, every time a speaker came to speak, I was like, well, I got to do that now. I got to do that now. I got to do that. I got to feel good. I just feel guilty all the time about what I wasn't doing. And I had to realize finally that not everything that came from heaven had my name on it. God does have something for you to do. By the way, that's what the other 83 percent of you need to hear. Okay. God does have something for you to do and you need to figure it out and then do that well and then be happy and enjoy life and not go through life as if the responsibility for all that God was doing rested on your shoulders. Number six.

Number six. Find happiness, he says, in the present, not in the future. Find happiness in the present, not the future. We talked about this last week, but here's the verse. A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and eat and drink and enjoy their work. This too, I see is from the hand of God.

That is the enjoyment for without God who can eat or who can find enjoyment. We talked about this last week, but Solomon tells us that happiness is only something that you can experience in the present. Yet most of us live as if it is something we hope to obtain in the future or something we mourn because we left behind in the past.

Right? Blaise Pascal said, we seem never to be able to be happy with the present. Either we yearn for the future and wish it would hurry up and get here or we mourn the past and wish it had not flown by so quickly. He says, look at this, are not all of your thoughts occupied with the past or the future? Isn't that what you think about all the time?

Oh, when I get here, I'm gonna be happy. Are you thinking about all is so happy then? We scarcely ever think about the present because the present is painful to us. We conceal the present from our sight because it troubles us.

And if it happens to be pleasing to us, we only focus on the pain of it slipping away. Most of the time, we only think of the present, the plan for our future. The present is never our end. The present is our means. The future alone is our end. So we never actually live. We only hope to live because we are always preparing to be happy. We never are so.

See, here's the lesson. If you're not happy now, it's not some change of circumstance that's gonna make you happy. Happiness is a gift of God that he gives to you in the present. Don't think that you're gonna be happy and content later when you get some new thing or new circumstance. If you're not happy now, you're not gonna be happy then. And there are some of you that are doing that. You're thinking when I finally get over to that ladder of six figures, or I finally get married, or I finally get the kids out of the house, or whatever you wanna put in that equation, then I'm going to be happy.

But it's not true. If you're not happy now, you're not gonna be happy then because happiness is not a change of circumstances. Happiness is something that you get in relation to God that he gives you. The stuff in your life that really brings happiness, Solomon says, it's already in your life now.

Friendship, good food from time to time, family, the beauties of nature. I had a very personal moment last year where this all really became real to me. About a year and a half ago, most of you know that I was approached by some leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention saying that they thought that I ought to allow my name to be put in to become president of the SBC for a couple of years. And so my wife and I were talking about, you know, this.

And it just so happened that when this was presented to us, we were reading the book of Ecclesiastes together. And my wife counseled me. She said, you know, if you think that doing this will increase your quality of life, if you think that adding this to your resume or obtaining this, you know, kind of honor is going to make you happier and feel better, you're wrong. If anything, it's going to make you less happy because it's going to make you busier and it's just going to add more stress and complexity to your life. All the stuff that you need to be happy in life, all the stuff you need to thrive, you've already got.

You got a marriage, you got family, you got friends, our financial needs are met. In fact, she made this great statement on fame that I just love. Here's what she said. She said, fame is making yourself accessible to a bunch of people you don't really care about at the expense of those that you do.

That's Veronica Greer, spiritual advisor to J.D. Graham, my own personal Oprah, okay? Fame is making yourself accessible to a bunch of people you don't really care about. At the expense of those that you do, the ones who add quality to your life are just friends who don't like you because you're up on a stage.

They like you because you're you. The ones who are going to really bless you and the ones who add happiness, it's not out there. It's not at that next level. It's in the present. And if you're not happy with where you are now, don't think a change of circumstance is going to change that now. Now, she and I concluded that there might be great commission reasons to do something like that for a season and it would involve sacrifice. And if so, we should embrace that sacrifice joyfully. But if you're pursuing it to increase your happiness in life, it's a fool's errand. You see, I say that I realize that opportunities I have and opportunities that you have are not exactly the same.

But I fear that many of you are doing that exact same thing with your career or you're trying to climb some ladder to get to some level. And you think that when I get there, I'm finally going to feel good and I'm going to be happy. But I'm afraid that when you get there, you're going to look around and realize that you gave away the greatest moments of your life to get to some elusive future that didn't deliver what it offered. Solomon tells you that God alone gives happiness. Happiness is not some future condition.

It's found in the present. And if you're not happy now, don't look to some change in circumstance that'll make you happy. Look to your relationship to God because there is where happiness is found. Thanks for joining us today on Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. We'll get back to the conclusion of our series in Ecclesiastes in just a moment.

But first, I wanted to remind you that today is also your last chance to get ahold of this month's featured resource. It's called Goodness in the Middle, and it's an eight-part study through that famous 23rd Psalm. You've probably heard Psalm 23 before and you might even have it memorized, but we believe it's worth a closer look to really soak up the rich truth that fills that beloved part of Scripture. In fact, we just taught through Psalm 23 over the last few weeks here on the program, so take that teaching one step further on your own with this study. And like many of our resources, it's also fantastic to give a friend or a family member, especially someone who might need some encouragement. We'd love to send you a copy with your gift of $35 or more.

Give us a call now at 866-335-5220, or you can always donate online at jdgreer.com. Now, let's return for the conclusion of our teaching series. Once again, here's Pastor JD. Number seven, and the last one here goes right out of it. Number seven, embrace and enjoy the seasons of life.

Perhaps the most famous passage in Ecclesiastes is chapter three. There's an occasion for everything. There's a time for every activity under heaven. There's a time to give birth and a time to die. There's a time to plant, a time to uproot, a time to search, and a time to count as lost.

There's a time to keep, and a time to throw away, a time to be silent, and a time to speak, a time for war, and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his struggles? In context, that means what does the worker gain who is struggling against the changing of those seasons? I have seen the task that God has given the children of Adam to keep them occupied.

God has made everything appropriate in its time. God's assignment of life to us includes various seasons, and wisdom means embracing each one appropriately. Foolishness resists the process and tries to hang on to some season because it thinks that happiness is only there and refuses to let that season go. For example, I sometimes, I'll tell you, just so you know, I sometimes mourn the loss of my youth. I will wake up in the morning sore, and all I did the night before was sleep. Somehow going from that angle to that angle is enough to wear me out. I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted.

I mean, I would seriously, no joke, drink a full two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, full sugar, full caffeine right before bed, sleep like a baby, and never gain a pound. Now, I look at a fake Newton the wrong way, and I put on a love handle. Unfortunately, I feel like my youthfulness was wasted on me when I was young. I had all this energy and time and didn't know the best way to use it. Now that I got some perspective, I would love to go back, y'all, and live that chapter differently, but I can't, but I can't, and now I need to focus on the new chapter that God has given me. In heaven, I'm going to have the wisdom of an old man and the strength and the vigor of a younger one, and that's going to be, but now this is the chapter that I'm in. Many of you, many of you can't let go of your youth, you see, because your youth represents for you the only way to happiness, and you got to try to get back there if you're going to be happy again.

So you spend hours every week in the gym, spa, and salon tanning it, tweaking it, tatting it, puffing it, tucking it, lifting it, twisting it, colored it, rocking it, or whatever you're doing, all the while ignoring the fact that these are going to gain you increasingly diminishing returns, and you're going to die in a few years. And trying to get back to that chapter is a fool's errand. Happiness is embracing the chapter you're in, using it profitably, and being faithful in it. Men tend to do this in their mid-50s.

They mourn the loss of their youthfulness, and so they go buy a convertible BMW, wear Iceman aviators, unbutton their shirts down to their navels, and hit on college girls, and make everybody want to throw up. There are few things in life more pathetic than a man in his 50s who won't let go of the previous chapter of his life and embrace the one that he's in. God has a good purpose for you in this chapter. You can be an incredible blessing to others, and he's got lots of joys for you in that chapter.

New kinds of joys, not the same joys, new kinds, if you'll embrace the present and you'll just let go of the past. There's a time, Solomon says, to embrace retirement and to use your retirement for God's glory and not trying to hang on to your relevance by staying in the game. There's a time for you to let go of your past.

Does it not just amaze you how many self-storage places there are in Raleigh? Just let go of that. There's a time to give it away or throw it away. There's a time to grow up.

Your high school years were great. Let them go. Let them go. There's nothing more pathetic than being in a stage where you won't let go of the previous one. And there's a time, he says, to let go of someone. Some of you have a past romance that you need to let go of. You had this relationship that you thought was going somewhere, but it didn't. And you think now that happiness can only be found back there with that person.

Listen, God has a whole life in front of you. Happiness is not happiness is not back there with the one you lost. It's in the present with what God has for you now. But you can't be a help to the people in your present.

If you remain captive to the past, there is a time he says to let go his point. God has ordained seasons for you. You've got to embrace and you've got to enjoy each one and not just be captive to the future and not be captive to the past. Some of the best parenting advice I have ever heard was this. Enjoy every season of your child's life and don't get caught looking ahead to the next one or clinging to the previous one. Just enjoy the one that's in front of you because it's going to pass by and you can't go back to it.

Embrace the seasons that change and just enjoy them. Well, let's end this whole thing back with where we started. Verse 13, chapter 12. Now all has been heard.

Here's the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it's good or evil. His last lesson, the one that really overshadows all of them is never forget.

Never forget the one you're going to have to stand in front of and give an account to because wise living begins there. Blaise Pascal said the human race nowhere shows its insanity more than how it deals with death. It uses kind of disturbing analogy. He said, life is like you're in a big ballroom and everybody's dressed up and they're got all fancy clothes on and they're partying and they're having a good time.

When all of a sudden the door opens and into the room comes this Savage monster who grabs one of these guests kind of at random and just malls them in front of everybody and then drags their corpse back outside the room and shuts the door and everybody kind of watches it for a while and then just goes back to party in and acted like it never happened. He says, and then the door opens and he comes back in and eventually you figure out that that monster is going to come and take every person, but everybody there is acting like that's not happening. He said, that monster is your death because we know that it's coming.

We know that this is going to end and what do we do? We try to distract ourselves from what we know to be true by just entertaining ourselves and forgetting about the certainty of death. Wisdom is living in light of the judgment that you're going to face because for all of human history, the death rate has held steady at 100%. So Moses is going to say the same thing in Psalm 90, Lord, teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to seek wisdom, teach us to think about death, that we might know how to live, teach us how to count our days so that we can make our days count. You know, interestingly, interestingly, both Jesus and Paul in the New Testament, listen to this, are going to quote Ecclesiastes and refute it. They're going to say, no, no, no, don't just eat, drink and be happy.

That's not, that is a good point of life, but that's not all fine. Jesus said only the fool lives as if he's not going to stand before God. Only the fool gains all these things and then loses them all in eternity. Paul said, he said, you know, yeah, if the resurrection wasn't true, then what else is there to do but eat, drink and be happy. But if the resurrection is true, then I got to stand before that resurrected one and give an account to him and I'm going to give an account to him. And if Jesus' resurrection is true, that means that I can embrace sacrifice here.

Sometimes I will, you know, abstain from a creature comfort and embrace sacrifice because I know that I'm going to eternal joy later and sacrifice is just giving it up temporarily so that I can gain it back there with to greater measure. And I know that one day I'm going to enter into the presence of him who said, then my presence is the fullness of joy and my right hand are pleasures forevermore. And if the resurrection of Jesus is true, I want to live for that moment. The author of Ecclesiastes is ending this book by reminding you that there is more to life than what you see under the sun. And that there is a judgment day coming and it is as sure as Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Y'all thinking about that honestly should scare the unbeliever and sober the unbeliever and should bring great comfort to the believer because, listen, for the unbeliever, for the unbeliever, it means everything that you possessed in life, everything you live for was futile because you've lost it all and you've got nothing, absolutely nothing to take with you in eternity.

You took the vapor of life and you poured everything into it and it's all lost. But for the believer, it's going to mean that all you lost in the heaven is going to be regained and you're going to experience perfect joy forever in the presence of Jesus. I've heard it said this way, for the unbeliever, this world is the closest thing to heaven you're ever going to experience. For the believer, this world is the closest thing to hell you will ever experience. For the unbeliever, the judgment day means the end of goodness.

For the believer, it means the end of pain. When it's all said and done, the writer of Ecclesiastes brings you face to face with the with the futility of life, not to lead you to despair, but to urge you to seek a hope that death can't take away. Have you found that hope? Are you prepared to stand before God? Are you prepared for life over the sun? Are you prepared for life after this life? You can be.

You can be today. It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment and on that day you will be held to account for every sinful deed you have ever committed and that is a terrifying day because none of us will meet the standard required to enter into heaven. But the gospel is that God, the God over the sun, loved you so much that he sent Jesus under the sun to absorb the penalty in your place on the cross and he now offers you eternal life if you will surrender your life to him and receive his free offer of salvation. Have you done that?

Have you done that? If not, you can do it right now in this very moment. The gospel message says that God loved you so much that he sent Jesus to pay for your sins on the cross and he offers you eternal life if you will surrender to him and receive his free gift of salvation. There's no greater message to center your life on and it's the message that we've built our foundation on here at Summit Life. Well, I mentioned this earlier on today's show but just a reminder, today is your last day to get this month's featured resource called Goodness in the Middle, an eight-part study through Psalm 23. Let me encourage you to become a gospel partner or a one-time financial partner today and we'll send you this resource as a thank you for your generosity. To give, call us now at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or you can visit us online at jdgrier.com. That's jdgrier.com. While you're on the website, be sure to sign up for our email list to get ministry updates and blog posts from Pastor JD delivered straight to your inbox. It's a great way to stay connected with Summit Life throughout your week.

Sign up when you go to jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vitovich and it's the moment that you've all been waiting for. Join us Friday as we pick up the final installment of our year-long teaching series in the book of Romans. You do not want to miss the conclusion of this incredible study and it's right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-05 11:15:49 / 2023-10-05 11:26:52 / 11

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