The Search for Satisfaction

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The Search for Satisfaction
Text: Ecclesiastes 7:14 (KJV 1900)
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.
Introduction:
* In our text this morning we see the contrast of two kinds of days, days meaning periods or seasons in life.
* On the one hand we see days of prosperity and joy, and then on the other hand we see days of adversity, troubles and trials.
* Now after pointing out this contrast between seasons or periods of life, then Solomon states a wise principle from God’s Word that is true in the life of every person born to the human race.
* Here is the principle simply stated:
* In the natural world, God has set up life so that our good days will interrupt by bad days. They have been “stacked up” one against the other.
* The reason God does not want anyone’s life to be all good days is so that we will find no satisfaction in life itself.
* Most people are engaged in the process of finding meaning and purpose in life.
* Everybody is searching for how to live the “good life.”
* If you have lived very long at all you will have noticed that the “good life,” a life of happiness and meaning seems to always be just out of reach like a carrot on a string.
* We live in a time when there seems to be no time. We are constantly in a dead run to get through life.
• In the human condition that we all find ourselves in, the lure of something better — something more than what we have — is forever with us.
• The temptation to go for it is often so strong, it blinds us to consequences . . . it creates an irresponsible “itch” that begs to be scratched.
* As a result, we don’t take the time to ponder life and what life is all about.
* We live in such a rush that we are no longer in touch with true reality.
* When the true reality of life does lift its ugly head, then we are unprepared and don’t know what to do.
* I’m talking about when the doctor says I have some bad news. Or when your employer says we are going to have to let you go.
* Or when you wake up one day and realize that your marriage is over and everything you had lived for is gone.
* Or even when you make to the top, you have found the “good life” but now you wake up and realize that you are still not happy. You have all kinds of money, plenty of friends, good health- but you are still not happy. Life still has no satisfaction.
* Or maybe when you wake up out of life’s hypnosis and realize that you are now old, and all of your life is spent, gone, and all you have left is emptiness and sickness. Life no longer has any satisfaction.
* The book of Ecclesiastes is a journal of one man’s maddening search for happiness and meaning in life.
* The man who wrote Ecclesiastes was the wisest and one of the richest men who ever lived.
* This man had the know-how and the money to closely examine every aspect of life. No matter what the project he had the brains and the money to carry it out.
* The book of Ecclesiastes is the record of a desperate journey to find satisfaction in life.
* You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to realize that Solomon’s outlook was pretty bleak.
* Solomon, a man of great wisdom, went through a maddening period
in his life when everything lost its luster.
* He had risen to the top, plenty of money, the finest education, all the time in the world he needed to do anything he wanted to do- but nothing was satisfying!
* With clenched fists and cynical words, Solomon called into question the most basic issues of the human existence.
* Solomon kept a journal of that dark and desperate journey that has been preserved for all to read. It is not only the story of one man’s experience but of all who attempt to live their lives apart from God.
* Solomon, the son of King David, the wisest man who ever lived, came to the reality that nothing in life is worthwhile- everything is futile.
I. Solomon discovered that everything in life “under the sun” Is Meaningless.
* Solomon uses the phrase “under the sun” to describe a life that is lived apart from God. “Under the son” is repeated twenty-nine times in the Hebrew Old Testament and all of these times are in Ecclesiastes.
* Life “under the sun” is a realm characterized by grievous labor and endless cycles.
* Life “under the sun” is a life characterized by injustice and wickedness, and it is a short lifespan according to Solomon.
* “Life “under the sun” represents the material world of earthly pleasures and chance.
* “Life under the sun” is the human experience considered apart from God.
* In today’s world, the philosophical equivalents would be secular humanism (that humanity is supreme in the universe), materialism (that the physical universe is all there is), naturalism- nature is God.
* All these philosophies ideas are at the root and focus of our modern day education systems in the world. This is what our children are taught.
* I want you to understand that what Solomon is about to say pertains to the man who lives apart from God. These are the experiences and conclusions of a person who does not know and remember his creator.
* What Solomon is trying to convey to the reader is that his journey through life has taught him that outside of God, life is meaningless, futile, and unsatisfying. Listen to the words of Solomon:
Chapter 1
These are the words of the Teacher,* King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.
2 “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. 6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. 7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea.
8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.
12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.
14 I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.
15 What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.”
17 So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.
18 The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief.
To increase knowledge only increases sorrow
II. God chooses our destiny and it is unknown and uncertain to us.
A. God chooses our destiny.
Ecclesiastes 6:10–12 (NLT)
10 Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.
11 The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?
12 In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?
B. As far as we are concerned, life will always be uncertain.
Chapter 11
The Uncertainties of Life
Ecclesiastes 11 (NLT)
1 Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you.* 2 But divide your investments among many places,* for you do not know what risks might lie ahead. 3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down. Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls. 4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb,* so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.
III. Solomon’s Advice for Young and Old. “Remember your creator while you are still young.”
A. Youth is good, live it to it’s fullest
7 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.
8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life.
But let them also remember there will be many dark days. everything still to come is meaningless.
9 Young people,* it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. 10 So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.
B. Live for God while you are young, because dark days are coming when you grow old.
Chapter 12
Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”
2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky. 3 Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly.
4 Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.
5 Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.
6 Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. 7 For then the dust will return to the earth, and
the spirit will return to God who gave it.
IV. The conclusion of Solomon’s quest for satisfaction in life.
Ecclesiastes 12:13–14 (NLT)
13 That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
• This book stands as timeless proof that without God, apart from His presence and His approval, nothing satisfies!
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