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Sermon Notes - Out of Control pt 1

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Sermon Notes – Out of Control pt 1

Series Title: Out of Control

Message Title: How to Find Meaning in Madness pt 1

Big Idea:  No lasting gain in this life (“under the sun”).

Exegetical Outline – Eccl 1:1-15

  1. The reason that life is futile (vain, fleeting) is because no lasting gain is accomplished from all ones work on earth (1-3).
  2. The examples of the futility of life are seen in nature; (1) generations come and go, (2) the sun rises and sets repeatedly (3) the winds blow to the north and south, (4) the rivers flow into the sea yet never fill it, (5) the eyes are never satisfied with seeing nor (6) the ears with hearing (7) what was, will be & what was done, will be done (4-9a).
  3. The preacher’s conclusion is that there is nothing new on this earth (9b).
  4. The preacher’s support for his conclusion is that there is really nothing which has not existed for ages before us. Also, we don’t remember history, and future generations will forget us (10-11).
  5. The preacher’s conclusion after exploring all that has been done “under the sun” was that all things are futile, since no lasting change can be brought about “under the sun.” (12-15).
    1. No one will ever permanently fix that which is broken (15a).

                                                              i.      For as long as people have existed, why can’t we solve what is “broken” with people? (Crime, war, injustice, diseases & sicknesses, etc)

    1. No one will ever permanently supply that which is lacking (15b).

                                                              i.      Has poverty ever been eliminated?

                                                            ii.      Have we ever had enough water in Laredo?

Homiletical Outline

1.      From an earthly perspective my life is PROFITLESS (1-3).

a.       Hebel = 36x (hebel = fleeting) (hebel = vapor)

b.      Under the Sun = 29x

c.       These two themes must be tied together to get the gist of the book. There is no meaning/value/lasting impact of a life lived only from earthly perspective.

Illus: Out of My Control

                                                              i.      What will you do when faced with this reality? Give up, party up, suck-it up, throw up, or look up?

                                                            ii.      Note: This does not negate responsibility and truth. Rather, it demonstrates the fallenness and brokenness of our current world.

2.      It has no LASTING value.(4, 11)

Illus: Quiz: Name last 5 Nobel Peace Prize recipients, Last 5 Academy Award winners for Best picture, Last 5 Superbowl MVP’s.

3.      It accomplishes no ultimate GOAL (5-8).

Illus: Common monotonous cycles.

a.       I can not achieve gain by pursuing personal interests.

b.      “Our universe is not designed to enable gain to happen, and those who attempt to fly in the face of this reality can only ever know grief and frustration in the end.” (paraphrase quote, NIV App Comm, pg 63)

c.       The greatest cause of depression is not the experiencing of difficult circumstances. It’s the false expectation that life should offer something better and more controllable that it does, and when it doesn’t, we must readjust our worldview.

4.      It will produce nothing NEW (9-11).

Illus: Students of History.

5.      It will cause no significant CHANGE (14-15).

Illus: My frustrations from lack of change.

a.       We will not fix injustices.

b.      We will not fix inequities.

c.       We will not escape catastrophes.

d.      We will not fix emotional hurts.

e.       We will never solve the water problem in Laredo.

f.       We must accept a broken/fallen world until Christ returns.

Explain: We make progress in some area over a generation, only to go backwards in other areas.

Summary: This book should heighten your awareness of how needy we are as a people for a Savior. Church, we are a pitiful bunch were it not for God. This book will paint a dismal picture of life as seen “under the sun” or a part from God. Let this reality sink in so that you might become more dependant on the only One Who is above this world. . . Who is “above the sun”. If you seek salvation in this world, you will be greatly disappointed. If you seek fulfillment in this world, you will be greatly depressed. There is only one place for salvation and fulfillment. It is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

6.      I must acquire a new PERSPECTIVE on life.

Illus: Perspective joke.

a.       There is hope.

b.      There is joy.

c.       There is enjoyment.

d.      There is fulfillment.

e.       Conclusion:

                                                              i.      I need a proper perspective on pursuits in my life

                                                            ii.      I need a proper perspective on problems in my life.

                                                          iii.      I need a proper perspective on possessions in my life.

                                                          iv.      I need a proper perspective on the perplexities of life.

                                                            v.      Commit to reading this whole book.

                                                          vi.      Commit to a self-exam during this series.

                                                        vii.      Commit to making whatever changes necessary to find ultimate meaning in the madness of life.


Forbes magazines devoted its 75th anniversary edition to single topic “Why we feel so bad when we have it so good.” Noting that Americans live better than any other people on the planet, Forbes invited prominent observers of modern culture to speculate as to why we are so “depressed.”

This magazine simply reminds us of what the wisest man who ever lived penned several thousand years ago under the inspiration of God. When we pursue meaning in life from unworthy pursuits, the results are not only unsatisfying, but they are down right depressing and discouraging. Every generation has experienced this dilemma. How do I capture life and milk it for all its worth?  Let me give you some images of how our generation has pursued this: 1.We take gobs of pictures and video of moments we long to hang on to, only to miss the moment because we’re trying to capture it. 2. We excessively retell and relive events over and over again because we are afraid no more await us. 3. We watch reality TV because our own reality isn’t exciting or satisfying enough. 4. We constantly need to upgrade our stuff (cars, clothes, houses, computers, MP3 players, video game units) because the pleasure of them wears off.  5. We cling to our youth or our health with all our might, desperately trying to ward off the inevitable. 6. We panic in crisis situations (job loss, death, move, financial bust, a relationship issue, an injustice) wondering how they could happen to us and where is God in the midst of them.

If we are going to live life well, we need a perspective that allows us to embrace and accept every aspect of it, not simply deny the inevitable while trying to maximize the preferable. The fact is, there is very little in life we have control over. We are Out of Control. So to live life well, we must learn to live “Out of Control.”  That is what we will learn over the next several weeks.

Lack of Contentment. (Found only in God)

            How can I work so hard and yet be so unsatisfied?

Lack of Control. (Had only by God)

            How can I find security when life seems out of control?

Lack of Consistency. (Brought only by God)

            Why does life seem so inconsistent, unjust, and unfair?

Lack of Continuance. (Found only in God).

            Why work so hard when I will be so quickly forgotten?

This series will take us through a book that surfaces the difficult issues of life. Those issues that are out of our control, yet often cause us to question the meaning of life and the existence of a good, sovereign & just God. This book will help us embrace life when we’re not in control. It will help us find meaning in the madness.

The author of this book is Solomon. He is described as the wisest and wealthiest man who ever lived. God blessed him with great wisdom, unfortunately, he didn’t always follow his own advice. He began his life with a bang and ended it with a bomb. In spite of his great wisdom, he allowed himself to be led astray by secondary pursuits:Wealth, power, women, pleasure, knowledge.  You could say this book contains his famous last words.  He has been there and done that, and we can certainly learn from him.  You may temporarily escape this feeling as you begin your pursuit, but rest assured, it will catch up with you, and when it does, it may be too late to do anything about it.


Out of My Control

·         We long for neat formulas in life (wealth, success, health, happiness, love).

·         Life’s reality escapes these neat formulas.

·         One person can apply business principles and experience phenomenal success, another can do the same and experience tragic failure. Worse yet, another can operate for years using crooked principles and appear to thrive in this life.

·         One set of parents can raise their kids in a godly manner and see them thrive. Another can do the same and painfully watch them crumble. Stranger yet, I’ve witnessed phenomenal young men and women come from the most dysfunctional of homes.

·         One person can life an incredibly healthy life and enjoy longevity. Another can do the same and die of a heart attack at age 40. Another, yet, can eat eggs, bacon and sausage for breakfast every morning, break every single dietary law and live to 90 yrs.

Common monotonous Cycles

  • You pick weeds, only to have them come back again. * You change a diaper, only to have to do it again.
  • You pay up your bills this month, only to have to pay them again next month.
  • You finish your homework, only to have more assigned.
  • You clean and dust the house, only to have it dirty again in a couple days.
  • You finish the laundry, only to find full baskets the next day.
  • You lose the weight you’ve been working to shake, only to gain it all back.
  • The Doctor cures your illness, only to get sick again.
  • You get your hair all fix up, only to have the wind & rain ruin it.
  • You make a little extra profit one week, only to have the washing machine break.

Maybe God has built monotony into this life so that we would long for another. Maybe He has built monotony into this life so we would not become too comfortable in this world. Maybe He has built monotony into this life so we would live for another.

Students of History

Any student of history understands this truth. There really is nothing new, it’s just the same issues dressed in modern clothing. I found this truth amazingly true when I studied church history in seminary. You know what the early church wrestled with? People who denied Jesus’ deity. People who rejected Christ as the only path to salvation. People who disassociated their physical lives from their spiritual. People who believed we are saved by our works, not by grace through faith in Christ. People who used the truth of Christ for personal financial our popularity gain. People who created controversies over non-central issues in the church. The same things we wrestle with today.

My Frustrations from lack of change

There is probably not a month that goes by in my life as a pastor in which I don’t contemplate quitting at least once. I think I could safely say my wife feels the same. It is a grievous task to pray diligently for people and never see them change. It is a painful process to pursue God’s vision for His church and fall painfully short only because some simply won’t participate or commit. It is a perplexing problem to see people pour their lives into worldly pursuits, yet have nothing to give for the God Who created and saved them. These things will never cease to exist within the church. Hence, I will probably never come to a point of never wanting to quit. However, what keeps me going the majority of the month, is that God breaks into this reality. People do change. I frequently see lives turned around after hitting rock bottom. I see God’s vision bursting forth through individuals and groups in our church as they surrender their lives to Him. I see people radically releasing the temporal things of this world in order to passionately invest in the eternal. That fires me up. That makes me want to sing. That makes me want to shout. Heck, that even makes me want to dance! We live in a broken world. Accept it. However, never forget that God has busted into this broken world to demonstrate His power. And He is coming again to finish what He has started (Read Romans 8:18-23).

Perspective Joke

A man went to see his doctor in an acute state of anxiety. "Doctor," he said, "you have to help me. I'm dying. Everywhere I touch it hurts. I touch my head and it hurts. I touch my leg and it hurts. I touch my stomach and it hurts. I touch my chest and it hurts. You have to help me, Doc, everything hurts."

The doctor gave him a complete examination. "Mr. Smith," he said, "I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is you are not dying. The bad news is you have a broken finger."

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