The Elusiveness of Happiness

Posted on 10 Dec 2018, Speaker: Howard Katz

Ecclesiastes 1:2-7, GW
2 “Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.”
3 What do people gain from all their hard work under the sun?
4 Generations come, and generations go, but the earth lasts forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun sets, and then it rushes back to the place where it will rise again.
6 The wind blows toward the south and shifts toward the north. Round and round it blows. It blows in a full circle.
7 All streams flow into the sea, but the sea is never full. The water goes back to the place where the streams began in order to start flowing again.
12 I, the spokesman, have been king of Israel in Jerusalem.
13 With all my heart I used wisdom to study and explore everything done under heaven. Mortals are weighed down with a terrible burden that God has placed on them.
14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun. Look at it! It’s all pointless. It’s like trying to catch the wind.
These words recorded in Ecclesiastes were written by Solomon, the third king of Israel. He was by far the wealthiest of Israel’s kings.
Although Solomon had been blessed by God with great wisdom and riches, He chose to pursue riches and pleasures in an attempt to find fulfillment, purpose, and happiness instead of a relationship with God.
The ultimate result of his misguided belief that happiness and fulfillment are found in material and temporal successes is recorded in Ecclesiastes. — “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.”

Ecclesiastes 2
1 I thought to myself, “Now I want to experiment with pleasure and enjoy myself.” But even this was pointless.
2 I thought, “Laughter doesn’t make any sense. What does pleasure accomplish?”
3 I explored ways to make myself feel better by drinking wine. I also explored ways to do some foolish things. During all that time, wisdom continued to control my mind. I was able to determine whether this was good for mortals to do during their brief lives under heaven.
In Chapter two, King Solomon continued to describe the extent to which he lived a life filled with self indulgence. He sought sensual pleasures and lived a life free from self-restraint as only a powerful king could.
However, despite living as he pleased, happiness and contentment eluded him. — “But even this was pointless.”

4 I accomplished some great things: I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards for myself.
5 I made gardens and parks for myself. I planted every kind of fruit tree in them.
6 I made pools to water the forest of growing trees.
7 I bought male and female slaves. In addition, slaves were born in my household. I owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.
8 I also gathered silver and gold for myself. I gathered the treasures of kings and provinces. I provided myself with male and female singers and the pleasures men have with one concubine after another.
9 So I grew richer than anyone in Jerusalem before me. Yet, my wisdom remained with me.
10 If something appealed to me, I did it. I allowed myself to have any pleasure I wanted, since I found pleasure in my work. This was my reward for all my hard work.
Solomon not only sought to be successful—he was successful. He accumulated vast fortunes and built magnificent buildings and gardens. “So I grew richer than anyone in Jerusalem before me.”
Solomon successfully pursued all his heart’s desires and enjoyed all the fruits of his labours. “If something appealed to me, I did it. I allowed myself to have any pleasure I wanted.”
While Solomon accumulated wealth, built great edifices, expanded his kingdom, enjoyed great fame, and indulged in sensual living he found a measure of satisfaction and pleasure. — “I found pleasure in my work. This was my reward for all my hard work.”
However, once the excitement of his worldly successes ebbed and the intoxication of his fame faded, he looked at it all and realized it provided no lasting or meaningful happiness.

11 But when I turned to look at all that I had accomplished and all the hard work I had put into it, I saw that it was all pointless. It was like trying to catch the wind. I gained nothing from any of my accomplishments under the sun.
At the end of King Solomon’s life he found himself totally disillusioned even though he was surrounded by great wealth and luxury.
At the conclusion of his life he had become an oppressed and unhappy king, because he squandered all the blessings and opportunities God had given him, not only for his own life, but for his kingdom.
Solomon’s downfall was not the result of his accumulated wealth or success. Because he believed the lie that these things were the key to happiness, he neglected seeking a relationship with God. The end result was a life that he deemed as “pointless.” Riches and power could not fill the emptiness in his soul.

1 Timothy 6:6-10 NKJV
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Apostle Paul provided us an eternal perspective of temporal success.—“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” It all gets left behind!

8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
Paul puts into perspective what physical needs are really necessary in this earthly life. Our basic physical needs are quite simple, but when our source of happiness is not in God then we will be discontent no matter how blessed we are or how much we have.
If we were living in the squalor of a refugee camp, we would quickly realize what we have in Canada is immensely more than we truly need.

9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Money, possessions, and the enjoyments of life are not evil nor are they the problem. It is our attitude toward those things that determines if they will cause us to stumble. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” The problem is believing the lie that happiness is rooted in temporal things.
Covetousness is idolatry because whatever we seek as our source of happiness becomes one’s god. (Colossians 3:5).

Psalm 32:1-2, GNT
1 Happy are those whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned.
2 Happy is the one whom the LORD does not accuse of doing wrong and who is free from all deceit.
David spoke about the source of true happiness. True and lasting happiness is found in having our sins forgiven, coming into right relationship with God, and having a loving and personal relationship with Him.

Hebrews 13:5-6 NKJV
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
6 So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Contentment is knowing that the Lord is always with us. No matter what we have to face He is always with us, right by our side.
If there is no salvation and life is but a fleeting spark that is extinguished the moment we die, then there is no true happiness and we might as well live for the moment, for when the moment ends so will we.

“If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”” (1 Corinthians 15:32b, NKJV).
Everyone knows they are going to die but most people don’t believe it.

Mark 1:1 (NKJV)
1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The Greek word we translate as “gospel” literally means “the good news.” In some languages the word gospel is translated as “news that makes one happy” or “the information that causes one joy” or “words that bring smiles” or “a message that causes the heart to be sweet.”
Salvation is not a belief system or a philosophy but a person—Jesus Christ.
The name Jesus means “Jehovah is Salvation.”
Salvation is not believing something about Jesus but actually knowing Him.

John 17:3 NKJV
3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

John 3:16 (NKJV)
16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Why did God have to send His only begotten Son to die for our sins?
First, only God Himself is righteous enough to pay for our sins.
No one else could die for our sins because all mankind has sinned. Without a Saviour each man would have to die for his own sins and experience the consequences of sin—eternal damnation and eternal separation from God in the depths of Hell.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, being both perfect and sinless came to earth in the form of a man to live a perfect life that we could never have lived. Then He gave His own life as a sacrifice and ransom for all mankind.
The next question that arises is this: “Why did Jesus have to die for our sin in the first place? Why couldn’t God simply have forgiven us?”
The Greek word for “forgiveness” not only means to pardon, but its literal meaning is “to release, to let go, to send off.”
Some people misunderstand that forgiveness does not mean that the injury or loss that has been incurred by someone’s careless or malicious actions simply disappears.
Forgiveness means the injured party is no longer demanding punishment, retribution, or payment for the damages incurred. Instead, he releases the person and as the one who forgives he absorbs the loss himself.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, bore our sins, curses and penalties on the cross of Calvary and died for our sins.
Our sins and transgressions didn’t simply disappear. They were paid for in full through Jesus’ suffering and death.
Because Jesus is the righteous Son of God and He Himself is sinless, He overcame death and Hell. On the third day He rose from the dead declaring that His redemptive sacrifice was complete and perfect. Salvation is now available to all who are willing to put their faith in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:19, 21 (NKJV)
19that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
21For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The Greek word for “reconciliation” can be used as an accounting term meaning “to exchange coins of equivalent value.”
The word reconciliation when used as an accounting term means the ledger sheet is balanced and the liabilities and assets are equal. Jesus’ assets canceled our liabilities.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” — At the cross of Calvary, Jesus took all our sins and gave us all His righteousness. God called it a fair transaction and declared that the ledger sheet of Heaven has been reconciled.

John 3:16 (NKJV)
16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
How do we actually receive forgiveness and salvation? “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV)
8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Faith is the conduit through which the grace of God flows into us to bring forgiveness and redemption. Through the new birth we have a new life and identity in Christ.

John 3:3 (NKJV)
3Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The Good News is that God provides us with salvation through the new birth. Our sins are forgiven, we are given a new righteous nature through Jesus Christ, so we are at peace with God.
The Bible teaches us that every person has been given a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3). Jesus supplies even the faith to believe in Him!
We don’t conjure up faith, we respond with faith.
Faith is the conduit through which grace flows into us to save us.

Romans 5:1 (NKJV)
1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
We can find peace with God when we put our faith in Christ since our sins have been forgiven. All guilt, shame, and condemnation are removed.

Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)
18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” The Great Commission as outlined in Matthew 28 is not evangelism, but discipleship.
Evangelism is the first step in the Great Commission, but discipleship completes the picture and is the ultimate goal.
Water baptism is not just a symbolic act. Because water baptism is the result of faith and obedience there is a release of grace in our lives.
Every time we step out in faith and obedience we will find there is a release of grace in our lives to overcome sin and live a victorious life filled with joy and peace.
When one takes water baptism it does not mean life will be easier or that we will have fewer trials. However, it does mean we have made a decision to walk in God’s ways and God honours our decision to be obedient.
Although water baptism is not a ritual, it does have strong symbolism.
Water baptism is symbolic of death, burial, and resurrection.
Water baptism is symbolic of surrender as we allow another person to lower us into the water and raise us up. Our submission signifies our admission that we are powerless, and it is Christ who raises us up by His grace and strength.
Water baptism is a confession of three things:
Past: I put my faith in Christ and I have died to my old sinful identity. I am born again and I am now a new creation in Christ.
Present: I choose to die to myself each day and live for Christ.
Future: One day this mortal body will die and I will be raised in an incorruptible immortal body.
When we follow Jesus we can have the joy of knowing our lives will bring forth eternal fruit for Jesus!

The ABCs of the Gospel:

A – Admit you are a sinner.
B – Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
C – Confess Him as Lord and ask Him to rule over your life.

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