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“If All Your Dreams Come True” (Senior Day – 2014 and Ecclesiastes)

20 Jun

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Norman Rockwell’s painting depicted on the front cover of the Saturday Evening Post many years ago (I am showing my age) hit the heart of any father when it showed the son with his dad. The dog, too, knew life was changing as the youngster anxiously awaited his future.

It was also true of the girl, shown looking in mirror, pondering her future, wondering if it could be what she had always dream it would be.

We want to give special honor to our graduating seniors…but also acknowledge the accomplishments of all our children and teens today….your education is one of the most important things for survival in this world. You MUST devote the time necessary and put forth the discipline required to “make it in this life.”

 I. The Problem Declared (1-2)

“Is life really worth living?”

Life is not worth living because life is full of vanity (emptiness). Then he states his reasons:

 A. Man is only a cog in a big wheel (1:4-11)

What is man compared to the vastness of the world? Everything in nature continues, century Picture2after century, but man is here for a brief space of time, then he dies. It all seems so meaningless. It is vanity. Since life is so short and man so insignificant, why bother to live at all?

 B. Man cannot understand it all (1:12-18)

Solomon was the wisest of men, yet when he tried to understand the meaning of life, he was baffled. Is it reasonable to live when you cannot understand what life is all about?

 C. Mans pleasures do not satisfy (2:1-11)

2014-napkin1Solomon had plenty of money, pleasure, culture, and fame; yet he admitted that these things did not satisfy. Nor did they last.

II. The Problem Discussed (3-10)

A. God has a purpose in our lives (chap. 3)

God balances life: birth-death, sorrow-joy, meeting-parting.

(1) so that we will not think we can easily explain God’s works (v. 11)

(2) so that we will learn to accept and enjoy what we have (vv. 12-13).

God has set “eternity” in our hearts. This means that the things of the world can never really satisfy us.

 B. God gives riches according to His will (chaps. 4-6)

Why is one person rich and another poor? Why is there injustice and inequality in the world? Because God has a plan for us, that we should not trust in uncertain riches but in the Lord.

 C. God’s wisdom can guide us through life (chaps. 7-10)

It is true that man’s wisdom cannot fathom God’s plan, but God can give us wisdom to know and do His will.

Simply because we cannot understand everything does not mean we should give up in despair. Trust God and do what He tells you to do.

Did you notice that in each of these sections, Solomon emphasizes the enjoyment of God’s blessings and the reality of death?

The Dream of Knowledge

(1 Kings 4:29-34 NIV)  God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. {30} Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the men of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. {31} He was wiser than any other man, including Ethan the Ezrahite–wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. {32} He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. {33} He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. {34} Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.

A one-man university

 (Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 NIV)  I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. {13} I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! {14} I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. {15} What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. {16} I thought to myself, “Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” {17} Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. {18} For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

Makes us more aware of our ignorance

“A chasing after the wind”

 The Dream of Pleasure

700 wives and 300 concubines

(1 Kings 11:3 NIV)  He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.

“I refused my heart no pleasure.”

(Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIV)  I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.

“Meaningless”

{11} Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

 The Dream of Accomplishment

7 years to build temple

(1 Kings 6:38 NIV)  In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.

13 years to build palace

(1 Kings 7:1 NIV)  It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.

All must be left behind

(Ecclesiastes 2:18 NIV)  I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.

“Meaningless”

  (Ecclesiastes 2:24 NIV)  A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,

 The Dream of Wealth

Richest man on earth

(1 Kings 10:23 NIV)  King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.

Silver as common as stones

(1 Kings 10:27 NIV)  The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.

“Meaningless”

(Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV)  Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

Your Own Dreams

Look at your own dreams. What if they all came true…where would you be? And why would they be looked at ultimately any differently than Solomon?

Your Own Dreams  A. Live by faith (11:1-6)

 (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 NIV)  Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. {2} Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. {3} If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie. {4} Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. {5} As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. {6} Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

 Your Own Dreams  B. Remember that life will end (11:7-12:7)

(Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 NIV)  Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. {8} However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless. {9} Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. {10} So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.

(Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 NIV)  Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”– {2} before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; {3} when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; {4} when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; {5} when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. {6} Remember him–before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, {7} and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Your Own Dreams  C. Fear God and obey Him (12:8-14)

(Ecclesiastes 12:8-14 NIV)  “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” {9} Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. {10} The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. {11} The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails–given by one Shepherd. {12} Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. {13} Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. {14} For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

 Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the    whole of man. –Eccl. 12:13

From the human point of view “under the sun,” it seems as if life is futile and empty; all is vanity. But when life is lived in the power of God for the glory of God, then life becomes meaningful.

 Any dream that doesn’t have God as the center is a dream that is unworthy of your life.

 The best part of this story took place AFTER the movie. He played for three years and had more shoulder and elbow trouble. He realized baseball was jeopardizing a bigger dream: his family. Baseball wasn’t the most important thing in the world after all.

(Psalms 42:1-2) As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. {2} My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Family, Sermon

 

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