Great quote on contentment – Paul Trip

The key to getting off the ladder and experiencing true
contentment is not having more or learning to live with less.

The key to contentment is worship.

It is only when my heart is satified because of what I have been given in Christ
and so much more delighted with God’s glory than in the possibilty of
possessing the next glorious physical thing, that I will leave the hunt.

Photo. Justine Blick. 5-20-12

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While enjoying the good gifts of God’s creation and creating culture, we must be careful not to divo rce gift from Giver.

Photo. Grace with her guitar and piano teacher Mrs. Heuer at the spring recital at Clemmon’s Hall. 5-2012

VII. The Sermon: Why Monty Python, LiLo, Brangelina and Hef Don’t Get It. – Reverend Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 – Part 4

Ecclesiastes 1:12 starts this book with Solomon’s thesis and this section begins his second argument. All is vanity is his thesis. The first example is the folly of earthly wisdom. The second argument is the vanity he found after seeking pleasure specifically in four types of pleasure – humor, wine, work, sex.

The Big Idea: While enjoying the good gifts of God’s creation and creating culture, we must be careful not to divorce gift from Giver.

I. “And now for something completely different” (vv. 1-2).

The Monty Python group had a film called, “And now for something completely different”. Though their humor is borderline brilliant and top 50 of all time comics, we see that if everything is funny, then nothing is funny. There are things in this world that are outside of the bounds for humor.

Pleasure is not satisfied through humor.

II. You cannot medicate the reality of a fallen world (v. 3).

He is not a drunkard here but uses wine to take the edge off like medicine. He wants to dull sinful reality but it still remains. The world is broken and fallen and drugs and alcohol can’t take the edge off for life in a fallen, broken world. Once the buzz wears off, you still have the same circumstances facing you to work through.

Pleasure is not satisfied through wine.

III. Not in work, status, success, eroticism or being ridiculously good-looking (vv. 4-8).

He was a good steward of culture making in all that God had given him. He enjoyed his good work as a business man and ruler creating culture. He got singers for himself. He is like a grant giver of money to the Holland Center for Performing Arts.

We ought to thank God that the vocation he has called us to is not meaningless and worthless at the end of the day. However, pleasure is not satisfied through hard work and culture making.

The idol of America is that we validate ourselves and find meaning for ourselves in our work and use it as a scorecard that I got it. I have wealth, and influence, and am raising awareness on key topics, thinking we do not need any more than this. This too is vanity.

IV. What if it’s not Hef’s world? (v. 10).

Whatever Solomon’s eyes desired he was not kept from. This is a sexual sentence. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

However, pleasure, meaning, and purpose is not satisfied through sexual promiscuity.

As one modern writer of our culture put it, we live in Hugh Heffner’s world – the playboy mansion. However, this is not where pleasure is satisfied fully and this is really God’s world not Hugh’s.

V. Flatulence! (v. 11).

Martin Luther commented on this passage and said literally, this verse means all is striving after the wind or striving after a breaking of the wind – flatulence!

Why is it broken? Why can we not find meaning and satisfaction and salvation and significance in these four things: humor, wine, work, and sex? We take these good gifts from God’s hand and make them not good things but ultimate things.

We can’t separate God from the blessings of God. Yes, Jesus saves, but let’s not come to God to get more gifts from God – Him to make our lives wealthy, comfortable, and happy – but rather come to God to get God!

The passage:
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine-my heart still guiding me with wisdom-and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the children of man.

9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Notes from Parts 3 & 4 of Ecclesiastes sermon series – very good stuff!

VII. The Sermon: Why Monty Python, LiLo, Brangelina and Hef Don’t Get It. – Reverend Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

The Big Idea: While enjoying the good gifts of God’s creation and creating culture, we must be careful not to divorce gift from Giver.

I. “And now for something completely different” (vv. 1-2).

1:12 starts this book with his thesis and this section begins his second argument. All is vanity is his thesis. The first example is the folly of earthly wisdom. The second argument is the vanity he found after seeking pleasure specifically in four types of pleasure.

The Monty Python group had a film called, “And now for something completely different”. Though their humor is borderline brilliant and top 50 of all time comics, we see that if everything is funny, then nothing is funny. There are things in this world that are outside of the bounds for humor.

Pleasure is not satisfied through humor.

II. You cannot medicate the reality of a fallen world (v. 3).

He is not a drunkard here but uses wine to take the edge off like medicine. He wants to dull sinful reality but it still remains. The world is broken and fallen and drugs and alcohol can’t take the edge off for life in a fallen broken world. Once the buzz wears off, you still have the same circumstances facing you to work through.

Pleasure is not satisfied through wine.

III. Not in work, status, success, eroticism or being ridiculously good-looking (vv. 4-8).

He was a good steward of culture making in all that God had given him. He enjoyed his good work as a business man and ruler creating culture. He got singers for himself. He is like a grant giver of money to the Holland Center performance.

We ought to thank God that the vocation he has called us to is not meaningless and worthless at the end of the day. However, pleasure is not satisfied through hard work and culture making.

The idol of America is that we validate ourselves and find meaning for ourselves in our work and use it as a scorecard that I got it. I have wealth, and influence, and am raising awareness on key topics, thinking we do not need any more than this. This too is vanity.

IV. What if it’s not Hef’s world? (v. 10).

Whatever Solomon’s eyes desired he was not kept from. This is a sexual sentence. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

However, pleasure, meaning, and purpose is not satisfied through sexual promiscuity.

As one writer put it, we live in Hugh Heffner’s world – the playboy mansion. However, this is not where pleasure is satisfied fully and this is really God’s world.

V. Flatulence! (v. 11).

Martin Luther commented on this passage and said literally, this verse means all is striving after the wind or striving after a breaking of the wind – flatulence!

Why is it broken? Why can we not find meaning and satisfaction and salvation and significance in these four things: humor, wine, work, and sex? We take these good gifts from God’s hand and make them not good things but ultimate things.

We can’t separate God from the blessings of God. Yes, Jesus saves, but let’s not come to God to get more gifts from God – Him to make our lives wealthy, comfortable, and happy – but rather come to God to get God!

The passage:
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine-my heart still guiding me with wisdom-and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the children of man.

9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

IX. The Sermon: Feasting on the Wind – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church

The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

The Big Idea: Living in a post-Genesis 3 world means that even our best attempts to observe, catalogue, and impose our will on our surroundings will bring the satisfaction of feasting on wind.

Exposition

I. No minor-league endeavor (vv. 12-13a, 16-17).

Solomon had huge wisdom from God and, in addition, God gave him wealth beyond compare. That means he had more resources than we will ever have to buy satisfaction under the sun in pleasure, material cool things, sex, houses, horses, power, etc. He is writing this book at the end of this pleasure journey and found that EVERYTHING under the sun is meaningless unless one is satisfied in the God above the sun.

This is a worthy pursuit to find satisfaction and purpose. It is an epic pursuit that only finds true satisfaction and traction in the gospel.

II. Honor and humiliation (v. 13b cf.: Genesis 1:26-28; 3:16-19).

God has called us to create culture – to execute dominion and authority over all that he has made as his vice-regents as it were. This is the honor that Solomon is talking about.

However, we create a culture of death and destruction. We see this in Genesis three.
Now the curse around having children is the pain in childbirth. Part of our calling is our work as men but this is cursed that it will be by the sweat of our brow.

The burden of humiliation is that our creation mandate to subdue the earth, because of our sinfulness, our roles are done in great pain now. God has not called the panda bears to do this work. He calls us. He gives us this mandate yet because of our fullness it will continually be a source of pain and frustration.

III. All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men (vv. 14-15, 18).

Spiritually speaking the deaf and the dead cannot hear and live – can’t put humoty dumpty back together again. They can never give themselves hearing and life. 1 Corinthians 1 says it is Christ who has been made to us wisdom and sanctification.

Where is your boasting? What good things have we made ultimate and relied on for our saving? What are our functional saviors? Moms, are you boasting in your children? Does God somehow love you more if your kids are walking with the lord? Do we boast in our marriages? The life we built together? Though these are all good things, they are not the gospel. What do you want to boast in. Your own wisdom? Solomon tells is that that will end in despair. Boast in Christ!

The text:
12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Those who live under the sun confuse history with nature, yearn for satisfaction and foolishly believe in progress.

Smores! Jodi photo, 2012

IX. The Sermon: Nothing New Under the Sun – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church – The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 1:4-11

Three themes or things the author won’t let us get away from. 1. Under the sun – living as if this is all there is. 2. Then, that is to drive us to despair. 3. This book serves to ask questions that the rest of the Bible then answers.

The Big Idea: Those who live under the sun confuse history with nature, yearn for satisfaction and foolishly believe in progress.

Exposition

I. Groaning or goddess? (vv. 4-7).

If we look outside of ourselves and look to nature for meaning and purpose for our lives, Solomon forces us to ask why? The earth does the same things over and over again. The sea is never full but the next storms, even for the next hundreds of years, will fill the rivers to run to it but then through the clouds never is the sea full.

Romans 8:24. One of the Genesis three curses is to the ground. All of creation is in need of redemption – not just us. Why would we worship nature as it is in as great a desperate need of redemption as we are? All cultures have worshipped something in creation but that makes no sense as it is in need of redemption as we are.

II. Mick Jagger was right (v. 8).

“I can’t get no satisfaction” – Stones. This is Solomon’s very point in chapter one. This is the insatiable human need for just one more. If you see it in your children that they want just one more, it’s because they have seen it in you first. This is a hard truth. It impacts our marriages too thinking that we need just a little more from our spouse, really to save us.

If this is true of all of us that the ear is not satisfied – we try but are not content – then how do we get the satisfaction of contentment?

Philippians 4:11. Paul say that he is fully satisfied when he uses the content word here. There is only one person who is fully satisfied in himself – self-satisfied. It is God. Paul says he is content and satisfied in Christ. Jesus gives us his sufficiency, his satisfaction, and his contentment. He is God. He is satisfied. We have him. Therefore we can be fully satisfied.

III. We’re still Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve (vv. 9-11).

When the writer ways there is nothing new, Solomon is not talking about stuff. Certainly new technology brings new stuff. He means that we are the same fallen human beings we have been since the beginning of time. We are still miserable.

Before WWI, the Humanist Manifesto was written saying that through education and technology we can eradicate suffering and solve our problems of pain in this world. Ironically, these advances in technology gave us greater ways to kill each other though poison gas and machine guns in a faster and more efficient way than our predecessors have.

Christ is the one who said I am making all things new. Revelation 21 shows that our computers will not get us to the next level – Jesus is making all things new.

It is God himself that gives satisfaction. There are so many things that I with greater vigor pursue and exalt over Jesus. It is God alone that redemees. We may not be satisfied with this answer that Edcleesiastes is driving us to despair, but it is a fact like gravity. You need contentment? You won’t find it in your stuff or anything under the sun. You will only find it in the Son. Do you know this satisfaction – this person Jesus?

The Passage
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.
8 All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.

The book of Ecclesiastes asks questions the rest of the Bible answers, impressing upon us the vanity and meaninglessness of a life lived apart from God.

Photo. Justine Blick. May 2011. Fremont spring storms.

IX. The Sermon: Full of Sound and Fury and Signifying Nothing – Rev. Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Presbyterian Church, The Sermon Passage: 1:1-3

The Big Idea: The book of Ecclesiastes asks questions the rest of the Bible answers, impressing upon us the vanity and meaninglessness of a life lived apart from God.

Exposition

I. Read Ecclesiastes as an antidote to consumer churchianity.

No one can outdo Solomon. He had more money and power and wealth than any of us will ever have to see if he could buy satisfaction. He did not. If he didn’t, what makes us think that we can outdo him? He DID end up finding satisfaction beyond the sun, namely, the Maker of the sun.

II. Confess what honest pagans already know (v. 2).

Frederich Niche, a popular existentialist, said God is dead and we killed him. He ended his life in an insane asylum as the implications of this life philosophy in this maxim drove him mad.

Ecclesiastes is supposed to drive us to despair.

If this is all there is, then we are in trouble. That is the truth that Solomon, Niche, Kurt Cobain, etc. knew.

III. Stop trying to secure what Jesus has already secured for you (v.3).

The answers to the questions that Solomon brings up in this book are not found in this book – they are found in the person of Christ. Matthew 6:25-36 was our reading today. Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap but are fed by their heavenly father. Are we not worth more to him than they?

Jesus ties this passage to the questions in Ecclesiastes. Do birds eat? Yes. But they are fed by a Father above the sun. Clothing on your back is not a want but a legitimate need. What you do to work for it is all put in perspective by the Father’s work. Your work is not ultimate – God’s is. Your work is not what matters or your ministry work. The ultimate work is God’s work. So why let your penultimate work keep you up late at night? Rest. God is working. It is about his work that he is doing.

But we doubt it. We doubt he cares that much for us. We doubt Jesus. But Jesus is the one who is speaking in this Matthew passage. His very presence among us as he came to earth is proof that there is life beyond the sun.

Come to me all who labor and heavy laden and I will give you rest. You will find rest for your souls in Christ. Are you despairing? Don’t. Your heavenly Father values you much more than the birds of the air and the lillies of the field. The burdens you have, give them to him and find rest. Do you know that rest? Not, are you at Christian, but do you know that rest he offers you?

The text:
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?