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ANSWERING LIFE’S BIGGEST QUESTIONS

Part 2 – How Can I Find Lasting Happiness?

(Ecclesiastes 2:1-17)

January 20, 2019
Dr. Mark S. Hartman

 

1. THERE ARE SOME BASIC ASSUMPTIONS MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE WILL MAKE THEM HAPPY.

A. Assumption #1 – Pleasure is a sure path to happiness.

1. Ecclesiastes 2:1-3  I thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.”  But that also proved to be meaningless.  “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?”  I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly– my mind still guiding me with wisdom.  I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.

2. Pleasure always promises more than it can deliver.  It, eventually leaves you wounded and bored.  It doesn’t last.

B. Assumption #2 – Happiness is found in work and in achieving success.

1. Ecclesiastes 2:4-5  I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.  I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.

2. Ecclesiastes 2:20  But I turned in despair from hard work as the answer to my search for satisfaction.

C. Assumption # 3 – The more money I have the happier I will be.

1. Ecclesiastes 2:7-11  I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.  I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

2. Research shows the richer we get, the less happy we become.  A study, (“The world’s happiest people make this much money” February 14, 2018) published last year found that once a family reaches a certain combined household income – (i.e. $105,000 in the United States, $95,000 globally) more income “tended to be associated with reduced life satisfaction and a lower level of well-being.”

Children who come from affluent families are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse than those who come from less affluent families.  (“Children of the Affluent, February, 2005).

D. Assumption #4 – Education is the key to finding happiness.

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18  I thought to myself, “Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.  For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

E. Solomon had gotten it all, tried it all, spent it all – but he was still not happy.

1. Ecclesiastes 2:17  So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me.  All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

2. “What spoils the pleasures of life for us is our hunger to get out of them more than they can ever deliver.  Getting eternal and ultimate meaning out of temporal and temporary pursuits is destined to fail.” (Derek Kidner)

 

2. THERE IS A WAY TO EXPERIENCE LASTING HAPPINESS (JOY).

A. Solomon came to the conclusion that the place of satisfaction was not gold, but God.  It was not found in the creation, but rather in the Creator.  It cannot be found in gifts, but in the Giver.

B. Put your focus on the right thing.

1. Ecclesiastes 2:24  There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor.  This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

2. 1 Timothy 6:17  Our trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

3. All of the possessions and the health and the things we enjoy are not intended to turn our hearts toward them but toward Him.

4. Matthew 6:33  But seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these (other) things will be given to you as well.

Seek the Giver, not the gifts and you will end up with both.

C. Decide to receive the relationship God offers through His Son, Jesus Christ.

John 5:24  I tell you the truth, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

D. Choose to be content with what God has already given you.

Philippians 4:11-12  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

E. Decide to become more outwardly focused.

Matthew 16:25  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.

F. Decide to live by the principles of God’s word.

Matthew 5:6  Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully,  (Jesus)

 

Action Steps …

  • I will begin/continue practicing how to shift my focus from the created to the creator.
  • I will begin/continue developing the habit of being content with what God has already given me.
  • I will be more outwardly focused on others instead of primarily myself.
  • I will begin/continue reading the Bible a little everyday and live by the truths God teaches me from His Word.