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Independence

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Welcome
Prayer
So before we dive into our text today,
I think it would be helpful to LOOK back a bit at where we’ve been...
SO THAT we might see more clearly where we are heading...
As you know, if you’ve been with us, as we’ve made our way through this book of Ecclesiastes...
..we have been consistently confronted with - LIFE UNDER THE SUN...
And what we’ve seen so far - is that THIS WRITER (most say Solomon, some aren’t sure)...
But this writer what he’s been doing is - He’s been looking at LIFE under the sun...
And he’s been walking down these different paths of life...
He has said - OK world, let’s walk down this path together...
Let’s walk down the path of - The Pursuit of Wisdom
Let’s walk down the path of - The Pursuit of Self-Indulgence
Let’s walk down the path of - The Pursuit of Toil
And what have we seen?
At the end of each of these paths…the conclusion has been - VANITY!
All of THESE THINGS are fleeting - UNDER THE SUN...
And so AS the writer has walked down these paths - he’s on one level - REMAINED very practical in what he has said...
WHY?
Because UNDER THE SUN - all the world has to hold onto is - Practicalities…!!
Here’s what I mean...
- When the world looked at 9/11 - their response was - Well that stinks....Ok, so where we going to eat?
ALL the world can comprehend is the practicality of - the BUILDING FELL DOWN...
That’s as deep as it goes for the world...
BUT FOR THE CHRISTIAN...
We look at 9/11…and our hearts HEAR the text of
Luke 13:4–5 ESV
4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
So WE as Christians…we look at 9/11 and see more than JUST the practicalities...
We see a CALL that goes out to the world!!
to - REPENT!
to repent before a Holy God!
And so back to Ecclesiastes - back to those PATHS Under the Sun...
The writer is SHOWING the world - EVEN in your own worldview…Even in your own PRACTICALITIES…you end up with VANITY....HOPELESSNESS!
And so what I want to do today is this -
I want to walk through our text…keeping it in context...
But then at the end SWING back around and view the text...
in light of the Gospel of Christ...
Ecclesiastes 4:7–12 ESV
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
If we were to look at this passage as a whole...
we’d see that Solomon is jumping on another one of these paths…Under the Sun
And that is the path of - INDEPENDENCE...
He decides to jump into the shoes of a lone-ranger
Now - not too long ago - a song became very popular in our society - and it was called...
Independent Women
And the reason it BECAME so popular is because - Under the Sun (as our passage points to)
There is APPARENT - Strength - in being independent
The push of this world is - Be INDEPENDENT!
Don’t let ANYONE control you...
Don’t let ANYONE or ANYTHING become your crutch...
ALONE IS THE WAY!
THIS is the message of the world...
And Solomon says - OK world - I hear ya....but let’s just see about that.
Ecclesiastes 4:7–8 ESV
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
In verse 8 here - what do we see?
We see a man - with no one else depending on him...
“he is without a son, or a brother”...
And so THAT means - he’s the perfect CANDIDATE to - SECURE HIS OWN HAPPINESS!
Mr. INDEPENDENT!
NO OTHER responsibilities...
NO ONE ELSE to DRAW from ALL that he can attain!
SURELY - he’ll reach his goal -right?
But what does it say?
it says...
“this guy is IN THE PERFECT situation to SECURE his own happiness!....
…COMMA - yet there is NO END to all his toil!
Now - maybe you know someone like this...
Maybe this USED to be you....
Maybe it’s you NOW!...
No end to all his toil…WHY?
TOO many bills to pay?
Saving up for that vacation next year…and THEN he’ll be done?
NO...
Ecclesiastes 4:8 ESV
8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
“His eyes are NEVER satisfied with riches!”
What does this imply?

Money

The hardest places to reach for Christ…seemingly....
are NOT the slums of the INNER CITY!
No - it’s the GATED COMMUNITIES that surround us!
No - it’s the people from Laodicea in Revelation 3.
Revelation 3:17 ESV
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Last week we talked about the SIN of ENVY...
and when ENVY is our motive…we will NEVER be satisfied!
Remember the Rich Young Ruler?
Comes to Jesus and says - Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
Jesus says - You lack ONE thing...
Sell all you have...
Give it to the poor....and come follow Me
What was the response?
The Rich Young Ruler - walked away - sad
Why?
Because - BEING rich....he didn’t want to LOSE what he had...
BEING rich, he STILL wanted more!
Do you see how the world can KILL you??
It can GIVE itself to you....meaning you’re rich (wealthy)
OR
It can WITHHOLD itself from you...
meaning - you’re NOT rich, but you WANT to be! You CRAVE IT!
The problem is - just practically speaking - The EYES are never satisfied!
1 John 2:16 ESV
16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Proverbs 27:20 ESV
20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man.
Death and Destruction are NEVER satisfied!
And never satisfied are the EYES of man!
And we KNOW this to be true!
Who remembers the first time they saw:
Grand Canyon?
Yellow Stone?
Mountain?
New York City?
NOW - when you first saw the Grand Canyon you said - WOW!!!
And then you leave the Grand Canyon and go eat at the local restaurant there, and you talk to the waitress and you say - WOW - we saw the CANYON - it’s AMAZING…!
It’s SO CRAZY!!
And she says - Oh…yeah it’s alright
And you say - It’s ALRIGHT?
And she says - Yeah…it’s alright! BEEN there…DONE that!
What happened?
He eyes became - bored with the Grand Canyon...
She SEES it ALL.THE.TIME!
And so it becomes....What else can I see…what else can i see!???
Our eyes are NEVER satisfied!! Under the sun!
And Solomon here declares this to be - Vanity...
Not only that but he declares this mindset to lead to a miserable life… (practically speaking)
Ecclesiastes 4:8 ESV
8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
From here Solomon is going to just give some practical advice....under the sun...
And what we’re gonna see in v9-10 is this...
SLIDE: Isolation: Cannot Sustain

ISOLATION

Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 ESV
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Remember - we’re going to circle back around to view these text from a Spiritual standpoint, so we’re not going to spend too much time on the practical side...
But I assume we all understand that - when you have another person in your life...
there are OBVIOUS benefits...
Notice what is says in v10 about those who ISOLATE themselves...
“Woe to him who is alone WHEN HE FALLS...”
FALLING is GOING to happen…ESPECIALLY for those who isolate themselves..
Proverbs 18:1 ESV
1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
And so for those who ISOLATE themselves....
IN v10 here - he says - If one of you falls…the other can LIFT him up!
*Think back to a time when someone in your circle came to you...
walked WITH you through a tough situation!
Is there anything better than a friend that you KNOW you can count on!??
For many of us now, we’re getting to that age when we’re going to NEED people in our lives to HELP US…through tough situations...
And so - Not only does ISOLATION - NOT sustain us...
But...
SLIDE: Isolation: Cannot Bring Security

ISOLATION

Ecclesiastes 4:11–12 ESV
11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Just practically speaking -
Anyone ever find themselves in a bad neighborhood....alone?
A bad situation - Alone?
In those moments - do you wish you had SOMEONE with you?
Just practically speaking - Solomon is speaking AGAINST ISOLATION.
The world believes ISOLATION is a sign of STRENGTH!
Solomon here shows us it’s a recipe for disaster!
And so that’s more on the practical side...
What I want to do now is circle back and look at these text from a Spiritual vantage point!
Yes we know that there is this thing called COMMON GRACE and it benefits all mankind...
There are practical benefits of living lives according to God’s law...
BUT...
Like Jesus said:
Matthew 4:4 ESV
4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Yes - clearly there is a PRACTICAL side of life - a physical side of life...
But Jesus says here - Man shall not live by -
physical bread alone
the practical side of life - alone...
THERE IS A SPIRITUAL side of life...
And so let’s VIEW our text today - pushing through to the Spiritual side!
the spiritual reality!
Our points so far today were spoken in the NEGATIVE sense...
We saw what certain things CANNOT do...
Let’s now LOOK at what God CAN do...
What was our first point today?
SLIDE: Money: Cannot Satisfy

MONEY

Well - know this -
SLIDE: God: Satisfies Forever

Jesus Christ

Commit this to your mind...
God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied with him!
You GLORIFY MOST when you are most SATISFIED in Him!
We’ve heard it before - We were MADE to worship!
And to MAKE MUCH of something is to WORSHIP that thing...
That which we DELIGHT in - we worship....
BUT SIN - is what? - the ABSENCE of the WORSHIP of Jesus Christ
• Where Worship of Christ doesn't exist...sin does.
• Where sin exists...Worship of Christ doesn't.
And what SIN does is this - it causes us to LOOK to the THINGS that CANNOT satisfy us…and says
Pursue THOSE things...
Worship THOSE things!
SIN says -
pursue MONEY - bow down to money - it will SATISFY you!
pursue success - bow down to success - it will satisfy you!
pursue status - bow down to status - it will satisfy you!
As kids - we thought that NEW toy would satisfy us forever…how long did that last?
As teenagers we thought that NEW car would satisfy us…how long did that last?
As young adults we thought that NEW job would satisfy us…how long did that last?
And yet - these things are - FLEETING…pleasures! - temporary
The world deceives us into thinking it will Satisfy us! It cannot!
GOD - Satisfies forever!
How do we know?
John 6:35 ESV
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Psalm 107:9 ESV
9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Psalm 22:26 ESV
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!
How blessed we are to belong to the ALL-Satisfying God...
Our 2nd point today was...
SLIDE: ISOLATION: Cannot Sustain

ISOLATION

But what about God?
SLIDE: Jesus Christ: Empowers Our Perseverance

Jesus Christ

We all know how the apostle Paul lived his Christian life right?
It was that Wiley Coyote lifestyle...
KNOCK him down - gets right back up....and keeps pursuing Christ...
KNOCK him down - gets right back up...
Where did that STRENGTH come from?
What SUSTAINED Paul?
Philippians 3:12 ESV
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
I press on - I persevere in the Christian life - because Christ has already MADE me His own...
I reach for Christ - BECAUSE i am held by Christ!
Do you see how Christ SUSTAINS us!
Philippians 2:12–13 ESV
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
And lest we think still that EVEN though God is working in us to complete the work He began in us...
That we STILL might not make it in the end...
We saw earlier that
SLIDE: ISOLATION: Cannot Bring Security

ISOLATION

And as TRUE as this is…we know...

Jesus Christ

John 10:28 ESV
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Amen?
Ephesians 1:13–14 ESV
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Amen?
Romans 8:31–39 ESV
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
AMEN?
Yes - Jesus Christ BRINGS ETERNAL security!
Jesus Christ KEEPS His own!
If - you wake up a Christian tomorrow morning - it will be because the Son of God - is KEEPING you!!
And if you ARE His - isn’t it interesting that He will LEAD you -
NOT INTO a life of ISOLATION...
But a life of INTERdependence with His children…other believers...
as we seek to TAKE His message - to the world.
He will draw you into RELATIONSHIPS - relationship with fellow believers...
that we might live out Phil 1:27
Philippians 1:27 ESV
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
As we’ve seen today -
Where the world cannot satisfy you…Jesus Christ satisfies forever
Where isolation cannot sustain you…Jesus Christ empowers perseverance
Where isolation cannot bring security…Jesus Christ brings eternal security
May we here at AFBC continue to press in to the Lord…TOGETHER…in Christ Jesus
Let’s Pray
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