‘FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?’

8 Weeks – 10/13/2014-12/5/2014

Overview: Most people have heard a song from the 60’s taken from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament.  They just don’t know the source.  The American rock group known as “The Byrds” had a hit in 1965 called, “Turn, Turn, Turn”, by Pete Seeger.  Remember?  “To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season…..”

The book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, expresses his despair and disillusionment with life.  He had everything, and I mean everything.  Yet, he felt empty.  He thought life was an exercise in futility.  Thus, the title of this 8-week series is, “Futile: The Meaning of Life.”

Solomon ends the book by saying the whole duty of man at the end of the day is to fear God and to keep His commandments.   It was true then; it is true in your life and mine!  We don’t have anything near to what Solomon owned and experienced.  We do have the same need for a relationship with the God who made us!

FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Week 8 – 12/1/2014

Life: Unfinished!

Ecclesiastes 12:1-5, 13-14

Overview:  Life can be lived to the fullest, yet unfinished.  How?  By forgetting to remember the Lord while you and I are on this earth.  Life is not complete without a relationship to the God who made us.  Solomon said that the whole duty of man was to “fear God, and keep His commands.”  Have you ever thought of how little we do of either?  Life lived to the fullest is truly a life lived for the creator!

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – We begin with the story of a minister from Spokane, Washington who had a brush with death on the highway early one morning on black ice.  After that experience, he came to really appreciate the book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon.  He recounts the lyrics of a Tim McGraw song, “Live Like you were dying”.  We use the song to introduce the test from chapter 12.

 

Tuesday – Part Two – We read the entire text as well as a parallel passage from the New Testament book of Hebrews, where the writer says, “It’s appointed onto man to die once, and after that to face judgment.”  When Solomon says to remember the Lord in the days of your youth, we need to know that today is the youth of the rest of your life!  We’re never too old to remember the Lord!

 

Wednesday – Part Three – Solomon paints a vivid word picture of the human body in chapter 12.  He describes in an allegorical way what happens to our bodies as we age.  His description is spot on!  You may even smile as you read it.  To remember the Lord means more than just recalling Him to mind; it means to honor Him and obey Him.

 

Thursday – Part Four – We quote from the Wesley Study Bible about what it means to have godless learning, godless greatness, godless labor, godless pleasure, godless philosophy, godless religion, and godless wealth and money in our lives.  It’s not a pretty picture.  It relates to Solomon’s words in this last chapter of Ecclesiastes.  It may actually surprise you to hear this!

 

Friday – Part Five – We close this week with a story of a man who almost died with a heart attack as a hockey player, right on the ice during practice.  If that were not enough, his wife left him and he lost his job.  Coming to Christ gave him new life!  We wrap up this message by sharing that the Lord doesn’t just give us new life, He IS our life! 

 

FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Week 7 – 11/24/2014

Life: Unimaginable

Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Overview: Most of us would be amazed at what God can do with the “little” we offer to Him.  When we do something or say something for Him on His behalf, we open that deed or word to the power of God!  That is no small thing.  This week we share from the 11th chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes, where Solomon tells us to “cast our bread upon the waters, for you will find it again.”  We don’t use terminology like that in our culture, but the principle holds true.  When we do something, anything for the Lord, He responds in what He does with it!

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – We begin with a true story of a college student in Canada who finds out how God can take our limited words and witness on His behalf, and multiply it!  It’s a humorous story with a powerful impact.  Let it speak to you today.

 

Tuesday – Part Two – We review that last two week’s messages.  Two weeks ago we talked about life being unexplainable.  There are things in life that simply can’t be explained, never will be explained.  Last week we talked about how life is unpredictable.  We simply don’t know what will happen and when.  Today we introduce the thought that life is unimaginable, meaning we don’t have a clue how God   work with limited human beings like you and me!

 

Wednesday – Part Three – We discuss verse one that says, “Cast your bread upon the water, and you will find it again.”  Perhaps it means that we are to act, move, and decide…. and trust God with the results.  Sometimes we can get caught up in the details of life and do the worst thing of all: nothing!  There is a time to take that job, buy that house, ask for forgiveness, write that letter.  As opposed to doing nothing under the guise of being careful.

 

Thursday – Part Four – Happy Thanksgiving! We quote a book by a Kevin DeYoung called, “Just Do Something”. It has to do with indecisiveness.  We are a generation of people that are hesitant to do anything.  Spiritually, there are times when we need to act when we feel the Lord is prompting us to act.  Is the Lord prompting you to do something, believe something, or say something?

 

Friday – Part Five – Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do more than we would ever think or imagine He could do.  If that’s true, would it make any difference in what you would choose to do?  We share a story about a five year old boy that illustrates this truth: trusting in what the Father wants in your life and in mine.

FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Week 6 -11/17/2014

Life: Unpredictable

Overview: Last week we discussed from Ecclesiastes 7 how life is “unexplainable”.  We simply can’t explain everything that has happened in our lives, homes, marriages, families, and careers.  Life is not only unexplainable; chapter 9 says life is “unpredictable”.  Consider your life 10 years ago.  Could you have predicted everything that would happen in the last decade?  Of course not, no one could.  But there are some things that are predictable when it comes to our relationship with the Lord.

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 that the “race doesn’t always go to the swift”.  We can all give examples of the team or the person that should have lost was the team or individual who won!  He is simply making an observation of the reality of life.  It’s a lesson that has implications for a lot of things in your life and mine!

 

Tuesday – Part Two – Secondly, Solomon says that the battle does not always go to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant.  We give an example of a man that was considered the most intelligent man in America at one time.  Was he incredibly successful?  No, not really.  Life isn’t a pattern of predictability for anyone or any situation.  That’s why we look to the Lord for His guidance, not our predictions!

 

Wednesday – Part three – Verse 12 of this chapter says that bad things happen even in the lives of “good” people.  They happen not because God was punishing us, but because of what Solomon calls the evil occurrences of life that trap even the best of people!  This just maybe a word for someone listening today!  We give a powerful historical example of this from World War two.

 

Thursday – Part Four – When bad things happen to good people, we ask why?  God just may reveal something of Himself to you and me in those circumstances.  We quote the most famous of all devotional books every written, My Upmost for His Highest, as it speaks to this very question.

 

Friday – Part Five – We will have negative things that happen to us in an unpredictable world, an unpredictable economy, and an unpredictable life, but God is still in control!  We close with the three things that are predictable in life.  They’re all connected with your relationship to the God who made you and the God who loves you!

 

FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Week 5 – 11/10/2014

Life: Unexplainable

Overview: Dr. Roland Murphy, an Old Testament professor at Duke University years ago, said that chapter 7 of Ecclesiastes is the most difficult chapter of the most difficult book of the Bible!  That’s the chapter we continue in this week.  This week we discuss how life is more often than not, unexplainable.  You and I cannot explain everything that has happened in our lives, nor will we ever.

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – We begin by reading the second half of chapter seven, having studied the first half last week.  We stress in our culture the importance of self-image.  It starts early, even in kindergarten.  And yet, more important than self-image is our God-image.  Solomon begins this passage by saying, “Consider what God has done…..”  That’s great advice for the young and old alike, consider what God has done in your life, family, and career.

 

Tuesday – Part Two – A response to asking what God has done in my life maybe “What’s He done in my life lately?”  That’s your temptation in life and mine.  Verse 14 says, “When times are good, be happy; when they’re not, understand that God has created both!”

 

Wednesday – Part three – Why do good things happen to bad people; why do bad things happen to good people? That’s the question of the ages.  We talk about what Solomon says about that very issue today on “CrossHope”.  We illustrate it with a surprising story about a hyper-critical, judgmental minister!

 

Thursday – Part Four – Ecclesiastes 7:26 speaks to the subject of adultery.  We talk about what one author says is the most informative statement on adultery, more than any other verse in the Bible!  Listen today for the reasons why.

 

Friday – Part Five – We close by talking about a woman who through no fault of her own was addicted to crack-cocaine at birth.  A traumatic childhood ensued.  She was adopted into a family who showed her the love of God.  Regardless of what has happened in your life, you have been adopted into the family of God!  (Ephesians 1:5, Galatians 4:6) Even an unexplainable life has meaning because of Christ!

 

FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Week 4 – 11/03/2014

Get Smart, Get Wisdom

Overview: Years ago, a psychologist commenting on the four main characters of the situational comedy “Seinfeld”, made this observation.  What those people did in trying to solve their problems was actually always worse than the problem itself!  Sound familiar?  The psychologist went on to say was what Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer needed was wisdom!  That’s what we talk about all week from Ecclesiastes 7:1-12.

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – We begin with reading the text.  It’s rich with the subject matter of life.  It deals with the value of your name.  Your name represents you. How important is your name to you? This passage talks about wisdom that protects the life of the possessor!  Wisdom has benefits that go way beyond simply having knowledge.

 

Tuesday – Part Two – We continue with the thought of the value of your name.  It’s more important than you may think.  Solomon then says that it’s better to go into a house of “death” than into a house of feasting and partying.  We’ll discuss why that statement is true.  It’s counterintuitive, but it’s true!

 

Wednesday – Part three – More churches in New England have cemeteries on church property than any other part of the country.   Have you ever wondered why?  We share the thought that those who never think about death probably don’t think much about life!  Solomon says that “death is the destiny of every man and woman”.   If that’s true, we need to know that!

 

Thursday – Part Four – We share the story of an 18 year old young woman from Texas who describes her life steeped in anger.  It’s a dramatic story that you will not only want to hear, but also learn some lessons that she gleaned from her siege with anger.  It will touch your heart deeply!

 

Friday – Part Five – We close with a true story about the Kamikaze pilots of Japan during World War 2.  Before they would take off on a mission, they were “sealed” into the cockpit.  There was no escape!  A writer commenting about that made the observation said that it was a parable about our lives.  In a figurative sense, we are “sealed” into this life for our appointed time.  We need the wisdom of God to live that life!

FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Week 3 -10/27/2014

The Times of Your Life

Overview: Perhaps you heard the news months ago.  According to a CNN reporter, over 100,000 people have volunteered for any upcoming mission to Mars.  They have offered to go, even though it would be a “one way” mission, meaning one will not return.  Just getting their will take 9 months. They will die on Mars. Why are these people willing to do this? People have speculated, but is it possible it reflects a desire for something beyond this life?   We talk about that this week on CrossHope.

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – This week, we study the famous passage of Ecclesiastes that was fashioned into a song in the 60’s by the rock group, “The Byrds”.  The song was, “Turn, Turn, Turn”.  The passage is from Ecclesiastes 3 that says, “There’s a time to be born, and time to die…..” referencing the irrevocable cycles of life.  All of life is about a start date, and then an end date- to everything!  We may not like that, but it’s true.

 

Tuesday – Part Two – Verse 11 of chapter 3 says, “God has set (or planted) eternity into the hearts of men”.  What does that mean? It means that even in the heart of the most dedicated atheist, God has imbedded the concept of life beyond the grave.  We were created for eternity, whether we intellectually acknowledge that or not.

 

Wednesday – Part three – Did you know that even enjoying what you have is in itself a gift of God?  Would it make any difference in your life if you really believed that?  Most people don’t; they think that all happiness and the enjoyment of life are up to them.  I’m going to share with you in this message four things that you and I should do in the time we have left on this earth.  It may surprise you what those four things include.

 

Thursday – Part Four – Today we share the true story and testimony of a woman that was shared on National Public Radio on the day my father died, August 2, 2013. She shares that her deepest desire was to know if there was possibly a purpose for her life.  That’s your question, too.   We talk about how this passage in Ecclesiastes speaks to that question.

 

Friday – Part Five – We share a piece of writing that was the most requested quote from our radio program ever!  People from all over the country requested this paragraph.  It will speak to you about your life in light of this passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-22.  I conclude the message talking about my dad’s funeral and its impact on my life.

 

 

FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Week 2 -10/20/2014

When the Magic Doesn’t Deliver

Overview: Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots wonders why having 3 super bowl rings may not be enough!  We all come to the place in life when the magic of life doesn’t deliver.  Solomon discovered that having everything still left him empty inside!  Let’s talk about that this week as we study Ecclesiastes 2:1-26.

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – Solomon was the man who had it all: wine, women, and song.  Today, someone might say this instead: he had sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  He rehearses all that he had in chapter two of Ecclesiastes.  He denied himself nothing, and refused his heart no pleasure.  His verdict?  It’s all meaningless!  It’s all a chasing of the wind.  He then says something incomprehensible:  “I hated life!”

 

Tuesday – Part Two – How do you get everything you ever wanted, and then turn around and say,” it doesn’t mean anything”?  According to Dr. Warren Wiersbe it is the law of “diminishing returns.”  When pleasure is the center of a man or woman’s life, it always takes more and more to satisfy.  The result is disappointment and emptiness.

 

Wednesday – Part Three – We share a piece of writing from a Jean Harrison who writes about disappointments in life.  It is extremely insightful about your frustrations and losses in life.  It just may speak to the deepest part of your being as you hear it!  Most of our desires in life have a spiritual component, even when we don’t know it!

 

Thursday – Part Four –  What would it take for you to come to the place that you realize that everything in life is a gift from God, including the ability to enjoy what He’s given to us!  According to Solomon, even the ability to enjoy something as simple as a meal is a gift from God.  That means that nothing ultimately satisfies without the Lord’s blessing.

 

Friday – Part Five – Chuck Colson tells us that life is not like a book, meaning orderly and in order like the chapters in a book.  For most people, life is a “mess” most of the time. How refreshingly honest that statement is.  We live out our Christianity in the midst of the mess.  You do, and so do I!

 

FUTILE: THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Week 1 -10/13/2014

Is Life Worth It?

Overview: The word cynic or cynical is not something we normally associate with a book of the Bible. Yet, if there were a book to have such a designation, it would be the book Ecclesiastes.  Solomon, the credited author said that everything in life was meaningless, utterly meaningless.  Maybe you know someone who feels that way today, or if truth be known, you have felt that in your life experience.  That’s what we study beginning this week, “Futile: the meaning of life?”

Weekly Compilation:

 

Monday – Part One – We read a rather depressing passage of scripture today.   Solomon looks at life in general and comes to the conclusion that all is meaningless.  Many people today, both secular and spiritual are not optimistic about life.  What’s life about anyway, what is its meaning?  We begin that venture today to find out some answers.

 

Tuesday – Part Two – We talk about the repetitive nature of life.  Most of your life and mine is the repetition of what we did yesterday, last week, or last month.  Don’t let the repetition of life create a sense of futility; let it be the thing to bring you toward the Lord.

 

Wednesday – Part three – Nothing gives me a sense of the transitory nature of life more than walking through a cemetery.  Seeing the headstones with the date of birth and the date of death reminds me, this is where it all ends.  And yet because of the One who is the resurrection and the life, those stones remind me of where the hope really is:  it’s In Christ!

 

Thursday – Part Four – We share the powerful true story of a young woman who grew up with neglect as the operative word in her life.  Yet, unable to “fly or walk on water” with her life, she found how she could walk on this earth.  The Lord can give you that kind of strength and power!  He can give meaning to a meaningless existence.

 

Friday – Part Five – Some people live and die believing in “existentialism”, meaning life is what you make of it.  If there is to be anything positive in your life, it’s totally up to you!  We close with a story of a man who believed in existentialism and had no hope.  Coming to a Christmas Eve service gave him something more than a “nothing existence” to believe in.   Having nothing, he found everything in Christ!

 

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