“Vanity of Vanities”

A. I am sure that most people would agree that the ultimate goal of everyone is to be happy.
1. All sane people desire to experience as much pleasure, fulfillment, contentment, and joy as possible.
2. However, it is an ironic and unfortunate fact that the overwhelming majority of people are seeking happiness in the wrong places and from the wrong sources.

B. It is to our eternal benefit that God has preserved for us the experiences of Solomon to help us in our search for the true meaning to life.
1. When we consider the life of Solomon, we realize that no man has ever been more qualified to write about the subject of happiness and where it is and is not to be found.

2. Solomon possessed some unique qualifications as he searched for potential sources of happiness:
a. He excelled in wisdom and knowledge (1 Kgs. 4:29-34)
b. He had incredible material wealth (1 Kgs. 4:7, 21)
c. He had unlimited power (1 Kgs. 2:25, 31), and
d. He had unlimited opportunities for fleshly indulgence (1 Kgs. 11:1-3).

3. Solomon had everything at his fingertips – would he find the true meaning to life?

C. The theme of Ecclesiastes is stated in… Ecclesiastes 1:2

1. The word “vanity” is found 37 times in Ecclesiastes

2. “Vanity” is from the Hebrew word HEBEL and literally means breath, and is used metaphorically of anything frail or unsatisfying

3. Solomon uses the phrase “vanity of vanities” which mean vanity to the highest degree

D. Solomon raises a question in Ecclesiastes 1:3

1. Solomon asks, What advantage is there in a man’s labor “under the sun?”
a. “Under the sun” has to do with purely earthly things
b. Void of spiritual influence – lived apart from God

2. In other words, What real and lasting benefit is there from one’s labor in this physical life?

3. Consider this question … Matthew 16:26

E. Solomon gives us insight as to what is the true meaning to life as he draws conclusions from:

1. His observations regarding meaningless cycles of life, and

2. His own experiences as he sought to find this meaning through various avenues of the flesh

1. There is the weariness of one generation to the next
a. Ecclesiastes 1:4
b. Man is only here on this earth for a short time, and when he dies there is another to take his place
c. From “under the sun” the view is: While the constant succession of generations of men go on, the earth remains seemingly unchanged and immovable.
d. The point is: IF man was as permanent as the earth SEEMS to be – then there might be profit to a man’s labor
e. Solomon’s conclusion: Earthly labors are vanity because man comes and goes

2. There is the weariness of repetition
a. Ecclesiastes 1:5-7
b. The “sun” is another instance of the ever-recurring change in the face of an enduring sameness – rising and setting day by day, never resting. The sun makes no real process, all its work merely brings it back to the beginning, and there to start all over.
c. The “wind” is another example of motion continually repeated with no real progress. The wind is seemingly the freest of all created things – but is still bound by the weariness of repetition.
d. The “rivers” are another instance of an unvarying operation producing no tangible result. Rivers flow into the sea, the sea evaporates into the clouds, the clouds move over land and drop its moister into the rivers – and the process starts all over again.
e. Viewing things from “under the sun,” Solomon says, “Nature is nothing but a vicious cycle” – the weariness of repetition
f. We get up and to work, and we get up and go to work, etc ect…

3. There is the weariness of never being satisfied
a. Ecclesiastes 1:8
b. Man, like nature, is confined to a circle from which he cannot free himself
c. Despite all our labors, man is never truly satisfied – what satisfaction one may think he has obtained is only apparent and fleeting
d. Given time, they soon desire something else – man is never satisfied with what he has … Proverbs 27:20
e. We have this – we want that…

4. There is the weariness of there being nothing new under the sun
a. Ecclesiastes 1:9-11
b. Everything that has happened in the world will happen again – History always repeats itself
c. If something is thought to be new – it is only because we have forgotten what occurred before
1) What about our modern technological advances?
2) Well, what about the pyramids, or mummification?
d. Given enough time, future generations will forget what we are doing today, and only “rediscover” what had been learned again and again

5. Faced with what appears to be such meaningless cycles in life, Solomon now searches for the true meaning to life in another area

1. Solomon prefaces his search
a. Ecclesiastes 1:12-15
b. Solomon, king in Israel, gave special attention and effort to the gaining all the knowledge he possible could. This was a task for which he knew that he was especially equipped – remember God had given him great wisdom
c. 1 Kings 3:5-15; 4:29-34; 10:1-7
d. Here is a man with probably the greatest ability ever known to mortal man, and he searches for the true meaning to life in knowledge “under the sun” – his conclusion, “all is vanity and a striving after wind.”

2. Solomon applies his wisdom
a. Ecclesiastes 1:16-17a
b. Solomon realizes the great wisdom and knowledge he has attained, and he applied it to things “under the sun”
c. He came to knowledge through observation, madness and folly – he gave himself to philosophy, all in search of the true meaning to life

3. Solomon’s conclusion concerning human wisdom
a. Ecclesiastes 1:17b-18
b. Solomon concluded that attaining human wisdom was like grasping for the wind – it did not provide the answer to his problem
c. Solomon also realized that such wisdom caused only grief and sorrow
1) The more wisdom and understanding of men that we acquire – the more we see its unsatisfactory nature
2) One becomes burden as they learn the things of life – the things that we have no control over are the things we often worry about

A. In Solomon’s search for the true meaning to life he begins with wisdom – he set his heart to know wisdom, and he found such wisdom to be “striving after wind” – vexation of spirit (KJV)
B. The true meaning to life is not found in human wisdom. The true meaning to life will not be found in philosophical attempts at life
C. Life from a worldly standpoint, “from under the sun,” is vanity
D. Ecclesiastes 12:13

Tom Moore

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By Tom Moore

The story is told of a certain man who entered a café to eat lunch. As he viewed the menu he couldn’t decide what to order, so he began to look around at what
everyone else was having. He saw a man over in the corner eating a big steak, he was smiling with each bite, and seemed to be having the time of his life. The waitress came to ask the undecided man what he would like to order, and pointing to the man in the corner eating the steak, he said, “I’ll have what he is having.”

Have you ever stopped to consider how people may be watching us as they decide what to do about religion? As people watch us what do they see? Do they observe souls who are enjoying Christianity? Or, do they see folks who look like they have been weaned on a sour pickle? As the old beautiful hymn states, “We are the only Bible that many will ever read.” “Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2). Thus, we ought to stop and take inventory of our lives to see how we are coming across to our peers. Are we perceived as one who is excited about Christianity?

David delighted in saying, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the house of Jehovah” (Psa. 122:1). “These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me, How I went with the throng, and led them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping holyday” (Psa. 42:4). The sweet singer in Israel was filled with great joy at every opportunity he had in worshipping God. The world should see this same joy in us! Yet, sadly, this joy is absent when we willfully forsake the assembly of the saints.

The apostle Paul declared, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Jeremiah joyously proclaimed, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy words were unto me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O Jehovah, God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16).

These are the kinds of attitudes that world should see manifested in our lives. These are the kinds of dispositions that beam forth as a beacon light of hope to a lost and dying world. Could there be any greater reason for joy than realizing that we have a risen Savior, Who has provided the obedient a way into heaven?

Is the world being drawn to Christ through you? Are you exhibiting the joy of Christianity?

Tom Moore

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Philippians 1:3-11

A. As Paul wrote Philippians he was imprisoned in chains in Rome (1:13)
1. He could have spent his time in self-pity and complaint – but he didn’t
2. Instead, he spent his time encouraging others: “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4)

B. You and I may not be physically bound, but most of us wear “chain” of varying sizes and lengths:
1. Failing health or a serious medical problem
2. An unhappy marriage or children who break our hearts
3. Job-related stresses
4. Financial struggles

C. How could the apostle Paul be happy in his chains?
1. How can we be happy in our?
2. Philippians 1:3-11 tells us to…

1. Paul was able to be happy in chains because, when he looked at the past, he did so with thanksgiving
a. Paul had probably been associated with the church at Philippi for 10 years, and he only had fond memories of that association
b. Philippians 1:3-4
c. The double use of the “all” make these verses amazing

d. Paul looked for the good in all things – even though he had suffered mistreatment in Philippi … 1 Thessalonians 2:2

2. Perhaps, when he looked back on the unpleasant events he saw the good that came from them
a. Romans 8:28
b. His wrongful imprisonment resulted in the conversion of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:16-34), and his being forced to leave town resulted in the preaching of the gospel in other places

3. Paul’s pleasant memories were focused on the Christians
in Philippi
a. They faithfully supported his work… Philippians 1:5
1) “Fellowship” –  – to have in common
2) The word embraces the concepts of sharing and joint participation
b. They supported Paul in work in various ways:
1) They prayed for him…  Philippians 1:19
2) Financial support…  Philippians 4:15-16

4. Paul could be happy in chains because he looked at the
past with thanksgiving to God
a. You and I can concentrate on the bad things that happen in our lives and end up bitter, or we can remember the good things, gives thanks to the Lord, and be happy
b. Happiness is a choice
1. As Paul thought about the Christians in Philippi, he was flooded with emotions: “Love” was one of these emotions
a. Philippians 1:7-8
b. Paul longs for them with all of his heart
c. Paul loved them with the love that characterized the Lord

2. As Paul remembered his brothers and sisters in Christ, he was also filled with “confidence”
a. Philippians 1:6
b. Paul was happy in chains because he was able to look at
the present with confidence in God
1) He was not self-confident as much as he was God-confident

2) Philippians 2:13
c. Paul had seen God at work in Philippi, and he believed that the Lord deserved praise for every good thing that had been accomplished
d. The confidence expressed by Paul was primarily because of who God was (and is), but his confidence was bolstered by who the Philippian Christians were the kind of people in whom God could work.
1) God does not look for perfect people in whom to work; if He did, He would never work in anyone
2) Rather, He looks for those who will allow Him to work in their liveS
e. How does God work in our lives?
1) Through His word  Hebrews 4:12
2) Through events in our lives  James 1:2-3 3) Through people  2 Corinthians 7:6

3. What qualities permitted God to work in the lives of the Christians at Philippi?
a. Philippians 1:7
1) Again, Paul uses the Greek work , but this time it is translated “partaker”
2) He mentions three things he and these brethren have in common…
b. They did not turn their back on him as other had when he was imprisoned
c. They defended and confirmed the gospel when it was attacked
1) “Defense” –  – meaning a verbal defense
2) “Confirmation” – has to do teaching and exhorting © d. Regarding their fellowship “of grace,” Paul used “grace” (unmerited favor) to encompass all that he was
and did
4. What ever our challenge is in life, we need to
remember that, if we are faithful children of God, we do not have to face those challenges alone.
a. Paul had confidence in his brethren
b. Paul had confidence in the Almighty… Eph. 3:20
1. Regarding what was ahead, he did not ignore the realities of life, he knew that the Philippians would continue to face challenges, as would he.

2. Philippians 1:9-11
a. Paul prayed that they would grow in love ()

1) That it would abound
2) Always seek the best of another
b. Paul prayed that they would grow in knowledge 1) Spiritual knowledge
2) Study is the key
c. He prayed that they would grow in the ability to discern between right and wrong
1) This is closely connected to knowledge
2) It means perception and understanding
d. Paul prayed that they would grow in Christian character
1) “Sincere and void of offence”
2) Sincere means judged by the sunlight (Lit. Without wax).
e. Paul prayed that would grow in living fruitful lives
1) “Fruits of righteousness”
2) To bear the fruit of good works
3. To face the future with confidence we must live closer to the Lord each day and glorify Him in all things
a. Prayer is a main component in this
b. There is no better advice for those who are “in chains” than to take their eyes off themselves and fasten them on the Lord

A. What will your reaction be to the “chains of life”?
1. We can look at the past with misgiving or thanksgiving
2. We can look at the present with cowardice or confidence
3. We can look at the future with apprehension or prayer

4. We can rely on our strength, or we can rely on the strength of the Lord
B. Which will be true of you?

Tom Moore

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The story is told about Albert Einstein, the brilliant physicist of Princeton University in the early 20th century. Einstein was traveling from Princeton on a train, and when the conductor came down the aisle to punch the passengers’ tickets, Einstein couldn’t find his. He looked in his vest pocket, he looked in his pants pocket, he looked in his briefcase, but there was no ticket. The conductor was gracious; “Not to worry, Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, we all know who you are, and I’m sure you bought a ticket.”

As the conductor moved down the aisle, he looked back and noticed Einstein on his hands and knees, searching under the seat for his ticket. The conductor returned to Einstein; “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry. I know who you are. You don’t need a ticket, I’m sure you bought one.” Einstein arose and said “Young man, I too know who I am; what I don’t know is where I am going.”

Do you know where you are going? Do you know where you will spend eternity? Sadly, many do not give this much thought. The Bible says there is only one of two destinations awaiting mankind: heaven or hell (Jn. 5:28-29). Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21). If you are faithfully obedient to the will of God – heaven will be your destination. Find the ticket (the word God) and learn how to get to the proper destination. Follow the instructions of God’s word.

Think About It!

Have A Great Day!

Tom Moore

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Tonight on the Harris and Moore Expedition Through The Bible we will discuss the Christian’s Hope. Tune in at at 6:00pm CST.

A Live call-in program discussing difficult topics and important issues facing the church and the world in which we live.

You have heard what men have said – now listen to what the Bible has to say.

Tom Moore

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Listen in to the Harris and Moore Expedition Through The Bible as finish up our discussion on “Religion and Politics.”

Tune in each Monday at 6:00pm CST to as we discuss difficult and important topics and issues facing the church and the world in which we live.

You have heard what men have said – now listen to what the Bible has to say.

Tom Moore

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2 Timothy 4:6-18

A. The is always something special about the last words of a loved one.
1. This is very apparent in our desire to be around them during their final days and hours here on this earth
2. We want to hear what they say.

B. This is also true of our biblical brethren of days gone by… Romans 15:4
1. Consider the apostle Paul who reveals to us his character, trust, and inner strength in his last words to Timothy
a. It was during his imprisonment
b. He was awaiting his execution

2. His mind was clear and sharp, and his words speaks volumes of truth

3. We do not have to guess at the meaning of his words – they are emphatic and to the point

C. Let us now consider the last words of the apostle Paul…

1. Paul is ready to stand down, he has accepted the inevitable
a. 2 Timothy 4:6
b. Upon becoming a New Testament Christian, Paul poured out his life in service to his Lord
c. Now he knows that his blood will be poured out as a result of his defending the faith and proclaiming the precious gospel

2. But Paul is convinced that this is not a bad thing
a. 2 Timothy 1:11-12
b. Philippians 1:21-23

3. Paul had lived and prepared for a “better country”
a. Hebrews 11:16
b. Paul had prepared for that city

4. Paul had resigned himself to pay whatever price must be paid to be with the redeemed of all ages through eternity
a. Are we ready to make this same sacrifice?
b. Are we willing to do whatever it takes to get to heaven?
c. 2 Corinthians 5:1

1. 1 Timothy 4:7
2. Paul was a “warrior”
a. “I have fought the good fight”
b. As a warrior for Christ he fought the enemies of the cross without shame, without fear, and without apology
c. He had armed himself for the fight and always carried a sword in his hand
d. Ephesians 6:13-17
e. Jude 3

3. Paul was a “runner”
a. “I have finished the course [race – ESV]”
b. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26
c. Paul knew that it would do no good to run in a race if he did not cross the finish line
d. Many today join in the race and for whatever reason quit before the finish line
e. But Paul never gave up – and neither should we

4. Paul was a “caretaker of the gospel”
a. “I have kept the faith”
b. Paul was entrusted with the gospel and he would be faithful with that trust even unto death (Rev 2:10)
c. Paul relied on the promise of Revelation 14:13
d. Paul spoke of those who did not “keep the faith”
1) 1 Timothy 1:19-20
2) These had NOT “kept the faith” – they had forsaken the faith

e. Sadly, there too many in our day who will not “keep the faith”
1) Who are not willing to be a “warrior” for Christ
2) Who are not willing to be “runners” who finish to race
3) Sadly these will miss heaven

f. Will we be warriors, runners, and caretakers of the truth?

1. 2 Timothy 4:8

2. In this life things do not always go as we would like
a. They didn’t for Paul…
b. BUT, what matters most is what awaits the faithful Christian – “a crown of righteousness”
c. Confidence in the promises of God allows us to overcome the hardships of this life

3. We must choose to live our lives in such a manner that we can say with Paul…
1 Corinthians 15:55-57

1. 2 Timothy 4:9-10, 14-16
2. Regardless of where Paul travelled his enemies mocked, belittled, and offended him at every opportunity
a. Certain Jews stoned him (Acts 14:19)
b. Certain Jews planned to kill him (Acts 9:25)
c. Demas (once a fellow worker – Philemon 1:24) forsook Paul loving the present world (4:9)
d. Alexander did Paul much evil (4:14)
e. No one stood by Paul at his trial (4:16)

3. BUT, the Lord stood by him (4:17) – and that is
all that matters!

4. All evils that befell Paul surely cased him great
pain and sorrow

5. Paul relied surely on promises like…
John 16:33

1. “May it not be laid to their account” (4:16) this was said as he remembered that no one would stood by him at his trial

2. Paul always practiced the teachings of Jesus… Matthew 5:44

3. Paul emulated Jesus… “Father, forgive them; for they know what they do” (Lk. 23:34)

4. Some of Paul’s last words were care for the souls of man

1. 2 Timothy 4:17-18

2. There was no doubt in Paul’s mind that he would not be disappointed by placing his trust in God

3. Paul’s last words were similar to those of Joshua 23:14

4. Paul had no doubt about his faithful allegiance to the Lord, his faithful service in the kingdom, and the promises of his Savior

5. Paul looked forward to his eternal reward!

A. Paul was a great Christian man worthy of our emulation

B. I pray that our last words can be spoken with the confidence of Paul

C. I pray that our last words will spoken as a faithful Christian and warrior for the cause of Christ

Tom Moore

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