Nothing New Under the Sun

Nothing New Under the Sun ~ August 19, 2018 ~  Candido Montijo

[Referring to his High School football coach] Before every game, he reminded us what each game was for. A lot of times in our mindset, we think football is all about winning, and getting the winning score, looking good in the picture of the game. But in truth, what he wanted us to remember is that every team we played, may not know who Christ was. His ultimate goal for us was to remember that by our testimony – by the way that we walk, by the way that we act, by the way that we present ourselves on the field – was our form of testimony.

So, going back to the idea of music, the thing that made me laugh about him was that he would play – I forget which orchestra it was – but he would play this orchestra music that sounded like going into battle. And he would set that up every day, and he’d come into the locker room just kind of getting us all motivated, and it was just hilarious, because if you ever watch movies or anything in real life, it’s usually like rock n roll or whatever, they do all these dances. Not him. It was this orchestra music every game. But the one thing we did as leaders was that we prayed before every game, and one of my fondest memories as a freshman was having a senior take me and sit with me or kneel down with me and pray. I got to see an image, an older model that I could kind of follow. And as the years passed, I became that senior, and I made – especially all the guys, in my class only three of us played football – but we still took leadership over all the younger freshmen that joined us. And we would take them, and we would pray with them before each game.

So, now, it was kind of funny, but there’s a song that has really been a part of my heart lately, and it’s called Revival. It’s from Fearless. And every time I listen to it, it just makes me think about how much we need to be fired up with the Holy Spirit, and how to speak out to people and talk to people. And so today for the first time, since I don’t get to preach very often, I did my own song to get me motivated to preach. And I’m sitting there just by myself just listening to the music, allowing the words to just kind of calm my head, because I know that when I speak it’s not me. Because if I spoke on my own, I’d fumble over my words 24/7 all the time. So, I know the Holy Spirit has to be part of the sermon.

The other cool thing is that this sermon that I wrote wasn’t my first plan. I had two other ones that I was trying to do, and unfortunately, every time I would get going, I felt like something was telling me know. So, what I do, I say, “OK Lord, what is it that you want me to do?” So, he’d point me to another direction, and I said, OK. So, I zagged. And I’d go and do that zag, and I’d get going, and I’d be like, “This doesn’t seem right,” then I do a zig. And then finally I get to this point and it was just like really strange, because if you guys have ever read the book of Ecclesiastes, basically the whole book is about everything is meaningless. So that’s why it’s entitled “Nothing New Under the Sun,” because Solomon wanted to recognize the importance that there is nothing, nothing, nothing has really changed about humanity and about how we perceive life. Back then, all the way up to today. So, we’re gonna read the Scriptures. It’s Ecclesiastes 1:1-11. If you want to use the Bible it’s page 505, but I’m gonna start reading.

These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem. “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come, and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is every truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now. [1]

It’s like the phrase we hear that if you don’t remember what happened in the past you are doomed to repeat the same things over and over. And ironically Solomon said that thousands of years ago. But in truth, we say that even today, consistently, over and over again the same issues kind of keep coming back with a new way of showing itself.

So, one of the things that – why I picked this, as God has moved me to do this – I remember when I was 22 and I was in the Young Adult Sunday School class. Every single leader that we had would leave within six months. And then they would leave for some weird reason or whatever. First guy I remember it was because of preaching. And then the second guy, he was all motivated to be part of our group and teach us and lead us. By that time, I was all like 21, 22. I didn’t want to lead it, because remember, I didn’t wanna be a pastor, so I was trying to avoid the type of thing that would force me to lead anything that would put me into ministry. So, I was trying not to lead it, I just wanted to be part of the group. And I remember when the second guy, he suddenly stopped showing up. So, we finally decided to ask him what’s going on. “Oh, I’m just gonna go back to school and get my Masters program.” We’re like, “Oh, that would have been great if you told us, because we could look for someone else.” So, we told one of our associate pastors, you know, “Hey, is there anyone who wants to lead?” And nobody in the church of 485 people wanted to lead 20 young adults in Sunday school class. And I thought that was the most ridiculous thing. How could no one want to teach our group? You know, we’re high schoolers, going to be young adults, and we don’t want to be in adult Sunday school classes. We’re not there yet; we’re not ready. And no one wanted to teach us. And I remember that one day, God just kind of prodded me and said, “Dude, I want you to lead this group.” And I’m like, “No, I don’t want to.” And he’s like, “I want you to.” And I’m like, “Fine.” So, I told the group, “I’ll lead.” And they were like, “OK.” And I said, “What do you guys wanna do?” And it came down to wanting to just read a book in the Bible, and the funny thing is, they wanted to do Ecclesiastes. And I was like, “Are you sure about that?” And they were like, “Yes, we wanna do it because it’s such a strange book,” and I was like, “OK.” So, every Sunday we would go through a chapter and just read and talk about it. Read and talk about it. That’s all we did, that’s how we started to understand how to study our Scriptures was to just read and talk about it. And it was really cool. We really go a lot out of it. But as I said, the whole book – all twelve chapters – the idea is everything is meaningless.

So, that being said, what I’m gonna talk about is why this could relate to us even today by understanding that there is two world views. There is God’s world view, and then there’s the world’s world view. And a world view is how you perceive the world through your eyes, through the way you believe, through the way that you think, to the way you may use science, the way you may use education that you’ve gained and gleaned all your life, to how your parents taught you. All of that gets put into your world view. All of that becomes your world view. But the question you’ve gotta ask yourself, how worldly versus how Godly is your world view? Because that comes down to how it has to be a firm foundation on which you stand. I mean, we use that phrasing a lot in a lot of the songs that we sing. We use the word firm foundation, and if you think about it, when you’re thinking about a house, do you want it on a firm foundation? Yeah! Why? Because you don’t want it to fall. And if you don’t have it, it falls. The tabernacle that Israel would build was built upon a cornerstone, and that cornerstone was the one piece that was put on the foundation, that if you pulled it, the whole tabernacle would fall. And that imagery that they used was to give us that imagery that God should be that cornerstone in our life. And if he’s not, then you don’t have one, and you really don’t have a house that’s standing, you’re holding it up with your own power.

So, the idea is also – and I thought it was really cool being in our church – you look at our church and how big it is and how it has all these rooms, right? So, I started thinking about how each of the rooms could identify something that is a part of your life. So, every door or every closet, the basement, the third floor – every aspect is part of something that’s part of your life. This itself could be your Christian belief room. This is where church, you get taught, you get trained. You come here to learn. But all the other rooms don’t necessarily have to be your Christian walk. But the other rooms could be your favorite sports team. Maybe it’s some hidden sing that you have hiding in the corner. Maybe it’s your love for your family, for your kids. Maybe it’s your love for your friends, people you care about. Another room could be maybe about your identity, who you think you are. Another room could be the school you want, another one could be a job that you have. Anything, anything that’s a part of your life and who you are, you create a room for it. The question I have to ask you: Would you let God be in all of those rooms? Would you allow him to be a part of those rooms? And maybe there’s a room that maybe you shouldn’t have, that maybe you need to clean out. Okay? The idea is that the foundation which this building is on is your foundation, and ultimately, if you’re thinking that you’re looking at God’s view, that’s the Bible. And if the Bible is not your full foundation, and you have other belief systems that you want to be your foundation, or there’s a book that you believe should be your foundation, or maybe it’s just your heart. Sometimes we use our heart as our foundation, but sadly, if you read Scripture, when people chase after what they believe is right in their heart perspective, they usually don’t end up very well. And David’s one great guy you can really think about – King David – and all of the mistakes that he made was when he started listening to his heart versus listening to God.

So, one of the things about Solomon is that he is known as what, do you guys remember what he’s known for? The wisest man on earth. I honestly think that as much as we kind of idolize him at a high level, like “Oh, that’s such a good – he must have been so mature, blah blah blah.” Think about it, when you have wisdom, what is that giving you the ability to do? The word I thought of was discernment, okay? Being wise means that you can discern what is right and wrong. Later on, I’ll tell you what wisdom should be, but right now we’re gonna just talk about Solomon. He thought he would be able to figure out right and wrong without any issue. I really think that’s why he picked it. He said with that he’d be able to do anything. And thinking about that, he’s the one that wrote Ecclesiastes, if you guys didn’t know that. He wrote that book. But the thing is, he thought in his ability to have discernment because he was the wisest man, he could try things and not be affected. But if you really study Solomon’s life, you discover something about him. One, do you guys know that he had not one wife, but about 700? And three of them weren’t even actually his wives, they were his concubines. I may have the numbers wrong, but they were his concubines. That means they weren’t even married to him. And two, all those women were not Israelis that believed in God as their only god. They were people from all sorts of religious and such beliefs and structures. And the thing is that every man, he seemed to have this soft spot for women where if they say something, we kind of just let them do it. And Solomon fell into that trap and let them do what they want. So, they brought all these gods into Israel and they were worshiping their gods here and there and it started influencing him where he started making mistakes and problems. But remember, he’s the wisest man on earth! I mean, that can’t happen, that’s impossible! But the thing is he also was a very smart guy, because I think he was probably really good at business, because if you think about it, he’s the one that built the temple. Now if you’ve read in Scripture, the pieces that he got for the temple were not all in Israel. He had to go and build relations and connections. That means he probably exported some stuff to people and in return imported the stuff that he needed. And he built the temple. But that being said, did you know that he was also the type of king that most kings around the area wanted his wisdom, they wanted his advice on how to build their kingdom up, on how to make things work in their government. They went to him for that knowledge. So that means that Solomon most likely understood other cultures, understood the different worlds that were all around him. He had that knowledge. His foundation was on God, but he at least understood what was going on all around him.

So, also, that means he worked hard. Things weren’t just handed to him, he worked hard. He went after and went after and went after. So, if you go look in Ecclesiastes 2, that chapter is actually about work, and he kind of points out something I thought was quite interesting. This is what he says near the end:

I came to hate all my hard work here on earth for I must leave to others everything I have earned. And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless! So, I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world. [2]

Now he’s not saying don’t work. What he’s saying is, how important is work to you versus God? Because everything you work so hard to do, you can’t take with you. It stays here. All of the money you could make in this world doesn’t go with you. It stays here. And who gets it? When you die, who gets all your stuff? If you have kids, they get it. If you don’t have kids, the government has it. So, can you imagine making all these millions of dollars and having no kids, so now you’re giving it all to the government to use. Yay. You guys gotta understand, if you’re fighting for all of that, trying to get all of that, trying to get power, trying to get prestige trying to look good, trying to be noticed, trying to be everything that the world would just be like “This guy is awesome, this girl is awesome,” you’re missing the whole point. And he’s telling you it’s gonna be meaningless at the end. When you’re at your death bed, all of that’s gonna mean nothing. The only thing you’re gonna want are the people that you love around you. Those are gonna be your last moments. You’re not gonna ask for your millions of dollars to be placed on your bed while you’re dying. You’re not gonna be asking for that signed football that you got from Tom Brady to be put by your side. You’re gonna want your family with you in those moments.

And then he talks about purpose. We all want to know about our purpose. We want to know why we’re here, why we exist. Ultimately, if you’re standing here right now, God has a purpose for you, because if he didn’t, you wouldn’t be here. Now the hope is that if you’re not saved, he’s hoping that you’ll find him and you’ll know his Son as your Savior so that you can be with him in heaven, but the truth is guys, if he didn’t need you, he’d just take you home when you accepted Christ in that moment, because it’s not purpose of you being here if you have no purpose, so never ever think you don’t. But then you also have to get down to your thinking process now. What is your purpose isn’t your identity, it isn’t who you are, it isn’t the things you’re involved in, it isn’t your work, it isn’t going to this school or this college or getting involved in this or becoming a famous player in sports of some kind, or being a well-known person, a president, a governor. Those aren’t the achievements of purpose. The purpose is ultimately, even as Kiera said this Saturday, “Aren’t we supposed to share the gospel?” Yes! But every one of us are not doing the same thing every day all the time, are we not? We’re all in different places, we’re all in different jobs, in different schools, we do different things, we’re around different people. So, we can’t all have the same purpose of spreading the gospel. Our purpose has to be where we’re at and how we present the gospel to people by who we are. So therefore, now we have to ask ourselves, well who are we?

For one, if you’re saved, you’re a child of God. So, your identity is Christ, your identity is who God created you to be. But if you’re the world, what is your identity? If you don’t have Christ, what is it? It has to be something of value on this earth. It has to be something that you can grasp on. That’s your identity. Doesn’t that sound hopeless? Because you can never achieve it. What happens? You’re miserable, you’re sad. You can never achieve. And what happens to some people? They give up. They fail. Some people, the homeless people you meet will tell you that. They grasp after something in this world so much so that when they lost something they lost it all, and they give up. And it’s like, “Yeah, but we can help you.” No, they have so much spiritually given up everything that the only thing that they can really have to get them out is God. They need to know their Savior. They need to know that someone loves them outside of just where they’ve been. And you’ve gotta take them out of there, you gotta love on them sometimes. You gotta pray for them. Even if they don’t have the power or capability to get out on their own, that’s the time when you gotta step in and just love on them in that moment. Because ultimately just giving them food and money is not gonna solve the heart issue that they’re battling.

So, one of the things that came across my mind thinking about all this, is that if you read in Ecclesiastes 6:10-23:

Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be…

So, God already knew what you were going to be. He knew what you were going to be before you were even born. He knew your purpose before you were even born. The thing is, if you’re not seeking after him, you’re gonna miss out.

… So, there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. [3]

Sorry guys, you can’t fight him on this. Sometimes it may take longer to get there – like me, it took me an extra four years to start listening – but guess what? If you’re wanting to serve God and love on him, then that’s where he’s gonna take you, to where you’re supposed to be. I was supposed to be in ministry, and I got there. But sometimes the journeys are not easy. Because I always think about David. When David was anointed, did he become king right away? If you know your Scriptures, no he didn’t. he was basically like 14, he got anointed, and he was probably like 25, 26 when he finally stopped running from Saul. I think it was about ten years. Can you imagine that? God telling you at 14, “Hey, this is what you’re gonna be!” and then ten years later you get to be it. And you’re like, “Uh, why did it take so long?” Because God was trying to mold you and make you and get you ready. And the thing is, in those moments, in the time when David was not king, even though he was anointed, are those purpose moments. Those are the times that you have purpose, because even though you know what you’re supposed to become, doesn’t mean that that’s your goal. The goal is that every day that God has given you before you get to that, basically the journey you go through to get there, that’s the timing that God has you for a reason to be around certain people.

I learned about that myself in the six years that I waited for ministry to happen. I worked at Sears for a year, at the store I worked at five years prior, came back, I got to watch that store die. I watched it just basically disappear, become non-existent. I didn’t wanna go back, because I was always taught, you don’t go back to the same job you just came from, because that’s not moving forward, and I had to learn very quickly, the Lord said, nope, I’m gonna humble you. Pop, kicked me right back to Sears, did the same job I had before. The store was completely dead, and like, people were thinking everything was okay, and I was like, “No, the store is dying! It’s going away!” And I didn’t realize right away what was gonna happen for me, and why God put me back there. But it wasn’t for me. It was for the people. I started ministering to the people, because like – I call it the “pastorness” of me kicked in, and I started taking care of the people. I started praying, getting involved, reaching them, talking to them, getting to know them, pray for them. Like, they never had someone do that. You don’t go into Sears and find someone and say, “Hey, I’m gonna pray for you.” They’re like, “That’s weird.” But the big time that really showed where I knew God had me there for a reason was two things. The guy who became my manager again, he was my manager before, he moved back to Longmont and him and I started connecting. His son had had cancer for six years prior, was clean for three years, and that year his son got his cancer again. And that year is the year his son died. And I was there for him. I was there to love on him, be there with him. I went to the funeral and everything, and I loved on him. And you know, the thing is, God brought me back to be part of his life for that moment in time. And the second thing was, when they finally told us, “Hey, we’re closing!” there was like four months of everyone falling into despair. I mean, have you ever lost your job before, or think you’re gonna lose your job? That moment of despair, that’s not God. That’s of this world, that’s sin, that’s just what happens. Despair is where you say there is no hope and God can’t help you. That’s basically what you’re saying. Yes, it’s hard. It’s never gonna not be hard. He’s not gonna remove the feeling of feeling like you can never make it. But the despair is there and it’s real. We just gotta look towards God during despair instead of looking into our misery. So, what I did is I call it I kicked into the pastor mode, and I started helping all these young people. I mean like, we’re talking like kids that are just graduating high school to like 21, 22-year olds that were about to lose their job for the first time in their life, and they think like there’s no hope, because they’ve never experienced losing a job and finding another one yet. This is hard for them. So, what they did is they were getting upset. So, I started teaching them how to do resumes, which I thought was the funniest thing, having someone who’s been looking for a job for like a year or two by this time, and I’m the one telling them how to do resumes. And I watched every single one of them get another job. But I didn’t get one. And I was like, “Lord, okay, this is very unfair, I’m working very hard to help everyone else but you’re not offering me another job.” And I couldn’t understand that. And guess what? I didn’t have a job for a year after that. I lived off of, basically, my school loans with Brit. That’s what we lived off of, and my parents helping. That was it. And then finally I got another job. It wasn’t full time. But I did it for a little bit. That stopped. Then I went for another job. And then finally, I finally got a decent job with an afterschool program that I did just before I got here, and I loved it, because guess what? Public school – God’s not allowed in there. They don’t want it in there. But guess what I did? I taught biblical stuff right behind all that, just didn’t use Bible words, I just taught the principles, and then when they asked me certain questions, I through the Bible right in there. I’d say, well, the Scripture says this, and they’d be like, oh, that’s weird. And my assistant kept saying, “I don’t think we’re supposed to talk about that.” I’m like, “Oh, we’re allowed to, they asked me a question.” So, I cheated the system a little bit to try and be able to teach the gospel in some way to these kids, and I did it. I loved it. It was fun. And when I had to tell them I was leaving, they were sad, because they were so excited to have me and that’s what helped me kind of to not quite, because I still felt like, okay, I can still see how ministry is still part of my life, and I’m like, “Okay, Lord,” and then when this job popped open and I got it, you know, it was hard saying goodbye to those kids. Some of those parents still Facebook me and I get to see them kind of grow up in the past couple of years now, I get to see them, you know, see where they’re going, see what’s happening with their family. So, it’s really cool that some of the parents really like me enough that they wanted me to still be part of their kids’ life in some way. But at the same time, I get this job, and whammo, I started realizing that purpose is not where I’m going to be, it’s the moment that I have and every day that I’m alive.

So, I get to chapter 12, and this is the end of this book. And I thought it was quite interesting how Solomon ended it. I was going to read more than two verses, but the last two verses stood out to me as the main essence of what he was talking about. So, he states:

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God, and obey his commandments, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

After all these chapters, this is what he tells us, the final two things. Fear God, obey his commandments. Fearing God does not mean being terrified of him, it’s respecting his authority over you. He has ultimate power, that is what he does. But the second thing he teaches is follow his commandments. What do you guys think his commandments are? Do you think he’s talking about the Ten Commandments? He’s talking about everything that’s in the Bible, everything that’s in his book. He knew about the future. The New Testament wasn’t written at this time, but he knew the future, and he knew that was going to be our guide. The Bible was going to be our guide to understanding and following his commandments. That’s his identification. Fear him, obey his word. Well, guess what that is? That’s a biblical world view. That’s it. There’s nothing else added to it, there’s no emotion added to it. There’s nothing added to it, it’s just fear God, obey his word. Period. Okay? That’s a biblical foundation.

What I thought of when I thought of this image, I thought of zombies. Zombies were actually, if you think about it, what are they? They’re undead, right? And guess what, when you’re in sin, you’re undead. You’re walking and you’re living and you’re living in the world, but you’re dead. So, what’s the cure? The cure is Jesus Christ. So, he’s the one that’s going to be able to heal you from that virus of the undead. So basically, when you’re in the world, you’re waling like undead people. When you’re living like him, you’re living like an undead person. But if you’re living like God, you’re following his word and you’re trying to do everything to live in Christ’s likeness, then you’re like the survivors that are walking around still trying to live in this world. Because remember, this is not our home. Where is our home at? Our home is in heaven. This is not our home, we’re not here forever. Eternity is gonna come sooner than you think, and that’s where you’re going to be for the rest of your life. So, if you wanna live like the undead, that’s gonna be basically living like the world. That’s why some people strive their whole lives to gain all the money and all the power and all the prestige that they could possibly get here on earth, because they think that’s gonna be enough, that’s gonna satisfy them. And if you think about a zombie, what do they chase after? Flesh and brains. That’s what – you watch most movies – that’s what they’re after. Why? Because they want a moment to be filled. They want that moment to be pleased. And what does that sound like? That sounds like sin. That sounds like worldly desires. So, you start chasing after things, and just like a zombie you go after the next flesh thing and the next flesh, and you keep trying to satisfy yourself, because what happens over time? I don’t know if you ever watch The Walking Dead. Do the zombies now in season 8 or 9, wherever they’re at, are they nice and fat and big? No, they’re super skinny, they get smaller and smaller as time goes. That’s what it’s like to be in sin all the time. You don’t see it because you don’t go skinny like that, but that’s what happens. Your spirit gets skinnier and skinnier and skinnier because you can never satisfy it.

So, then I got into this book I’ve been reading, it’s called Saving Truth. And a man, I think it’s Abdu Murray, he used to be a Muslim that accepted Christ, and then he started seeing the brokenness in the Christian perspective of this culture. So, he describes our culture today as “post-truth,” because we would rather follow an emotional divide of chasing after or supporting verses actual fact, because if we have facts, that means that there has to be some moral code to follow versus following our own belief structure. So, he describes it as relating to our denoting circumstances in which our objective facts are less influential to shaping a public opinion than appeals to emotion or personal belief. Satan has twisted enough to make humanity think that we can solver our problems ourselves, and to be honest, when you think of Romans 12:1 and 2, which is our youth group verses, it talks about the fact that the culture is wanting us to conform, okay? So, if you read up there, it says:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be living in holy sacrifice, the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Verse 2 says to not basically follow the customs of the world, because if you can understand by changing your mindset, that means understanding God more, having God being your foundation, and maybe making Scriptures your firm foundation, then you’ll have an understanding of what is pleasing and good to God, and see from his perspective and not your own. And so, the first verse, part of the first verse is telling you to give yourself as a living sacrifice. That doesn’t mean – remember, I talked about the whole building – are you willing to give God your whole building, or are you locking some doors to make sure he doesn’t get involved in it? That’s what that means. A living sacrifice, remember, when they sacrificed animals, did they just cut a piece of it and burn it? No, what did they do? They cut the fur of the animals so that the blood would come out, because the blood is what saves. But they burned the whole offering. And whatever was left, that’s what the temple people would be able to eat from. Okay? The idea is that if you surrender your whole life, giving it all to him – that means that every room is unlocked because you want him in it – then everything that you do, everything you like, everything you’re involved in will go all around who God is. So, you can still love those Patriots, or in my case the Broncos, but you can love it without it becoming your idol, because that’s what happens. When you lock those doors, that’s your idol. You’d rather have control over it, because you do understand, that’s why there are other religions, right? Other religions are designed so that you have control. Christianity is the only one where God sacrificed his life for you, and now you sacrifice your life for your God. It’s the only religion that does that. Most other religions are about how you can make it up. How you can get to the top. How you can get to that point. That is the goal, good versus evil. You know, Catholics are the one Christian group that actually talks about doing enough good to counter your bad. That does not work. God doesn’t say, “Oh, you were a good person this week, great job, so I’m going to cut off all the bad that you did.” That’s not how it works. There’s no scale. As soon as you sin, you are now a sinner, and you are now an undead zombie. And that’ why you need Christ, Christ covers it all. But it does not give you the excuse to live like the world. T does not give you the excuse to sin. What it gives you is that you have a Savior that’s fighting for you, and he’s serving you, and now you, when you accepted Christ, said, “I am gonna serve you the rest of my life.” But some of us, we go, “But not in that area. I’m not gonna let you be in that room, I’m not gonna let you be in this room, because I want that. I want that.” And now, once again, you’ve given yourself another idol that you want to give to. And unfortunately, in our culture because we’re so big on emotion, we’re so big in following our heart (which is not biblical), we’re so big on being tolerable (which is not biblical), we’re all about being in love or loving others, but that’s not biblical if you’re doing it the wrong way. Because if you love God first, then you’ll understand how to love others. So, no matter what is going on, you can love anybody in the situation they’re in. But you gotta understand God’s love first, because he’s the author of it. He designed it. And if you think you can do it by your own means, that’s not gonna be really true love. That’s going to be emotional love, that’s gonna be worldly love, because the only thing we can follow is what we think is right versus what we think God is saying is right.

So, going down a little bit further, humanism is what I say what humans follow if they don’t have a divine God, because here’s the definition: Humanism is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human, rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems. That’s humanism. So basically, it’s saying that all of us, collectively, without God being involved in the picture, can solve the world’s problems. But the only way that we can actually have that happen is if we’re all naturally good. And if we’re all naturally good, do we really need a Savior? No, there’s no need. So, what is the other way to look at it? We’re naturally born evil. If you think about it, do you teach your kids to be good, or do you teach your kids to be bad? You have to teach our kids to be good, right? Because you know how it is, some of you parents. When they’re noisy and rowdy, and then suddenly there’s silence. Do you really think that they must be hugging each other? What do you think? What’s the first thought that comes to your mind? Trouble! Trouble is lurking somewhere, right? That’s the first thought that comes to your mind. If you are thinking that first, then can kids be naturally good at birth? No. Because you have to train them up. That’s what Scripture talks about. You train your kids in the way of the Lord. You’re teaching your kids how to obey you, you’re teaching your kids how to love God, you’re teaching your kids the truth. You’re teaching your kids the biblical stories. You’re teaching them how to pray. You’re teaching why? Because you’re hoping that when they grow up that they’re gonna honor and love God above everything else. That is your hope. If you’re not doing it, then what are you teaching them? You’re teaching them a world view. You’re teaching them humanism. You’re teaching them that they can do things on their own, that they don’t need God’s help in things, because you’ve never needed God before, why do you need him now? That’s just the mindset that’s there. And then you hear people, I hear it all the time. I’m a gamer, I play games all the time, and I hear all the time, when we talk about Christianity in games, they say, “Oh, that’s a crutch. Oh, you guys are so weak because you need someone else to count on.” And I say, “Yeah, I am weak, and I think God is my strength!” We are weak. We’re all weak. That’s why we have Christ, so we can have strength again. And another image I thought of – and it was really cool, but, actually it was really cool because Mary and I were talking about praying for other people, and she was mentioning that somebody came to her, and looked at her and said, “You’re an image of strength for me, you help my faith,” And then she went automatically, “No, it’s God.” I said, “Actually, Mary, you think about it, if you’re walking by faith, you’re living by an example of what God wants you to be, so don’t poopoo the fact that you’re walking in faith by automatically saying ‘Praise God,’ because ultimately yes, it is God that has made you faithful, but it’s because of how you walk that the person was able to see the faith in you that gave them the strength to have faith in themselves.”

So, I started talking about the imagery when Paul starts talking about the armor of God. He was imagering a full armor suit. And during his time, who were the soldiers that he imaged? Romans, right? Because the Roman empire owned all their land. And those Romans, if you’ve ever known, it’s called Roman Wall. Have you ever heard that phrase? The Roman Wall was a bunch of soldiers that would stand on these big rectangle shields, and they would stand so tight and so close to each other that no nation that would fight against them could break that wall. That’s why it was called the Roman Wall. And then two, they would have another set of guys with shields that would stand above so when the arrows came, they would stop moving, tighten up in formation, and they would block so an arrow would not pierce their shields. And then they would block and then march forward, and they had another set of guys that would have spears so when they got close to people they could start stabbing and push the line back. That’s what the church is supposed to look like. That’s what it means to be in unity together. But here’s the question: what happens if your friend next to you, or the other Christian next to you is falling in their faith? What is the instinct that we should be doing? Stepping in front of them, and then helping them get on their feet again.  So that they could get their shield back up and get back into the formation. That is our responsibility as Christians. We’re supposed to be praying for one another, we’re supposed to be encouraging one another. We’re supposed to give someone a hug when they’re having a hard time, letting them know how much you love them. Isn’t that what unity in Christ looks like? That’s the image.

So, the thing is, we’re battling this culture. And here’s a quote from A.W. Tozer: “Not wanting to appear judgmental, we mistakenly try to make biblical truth fit the culture around us.” Does that make sense? Think about the phrasing. We’re so worried about not being judgmental of others that we’re willing to water down what we really believe so we don’t offend. But guess what guys? Scriptures itself is God’s judgement on humanity. So, when we repeat Scripture, it’s not us as Christians that are judging others. God has already done it. So, what is our goal by sharing what’s going to happen? Our goal is to show them that there is a hope, that they don’t have to be in the judgement of death because of their sin. So that means that we can’t follow the world and be like the world and expect people to find God’s view or who God really is, because we’re so much like them, they’re not gonna be interested. They’re not gonna be interested at all. In fact, they’re gonna say you’re a fool to even think you believe in something when you don’t even act like what you’re saying that you are. Why do you think Christians have a hard time sharing truth these days? Why do you think people don’t take us seriously, or automatically just nail us to the cross because of something we believe in? Because they think that we’re hypocrites. They think that we walk a walk, but we don’t actually walk it. Or we just come to church on Sundays, and then Monday through Friday what do we do? We act like them, we do everything they do, we talk like they do, swear like they do. We treat others like they do. And then when you turn around and say, “Oh, I’m a Christian,” they’re like, “Yeah, whatever, you don’t even act like one, how can you call yourself that?” We have a bad name right now. So, what do we do? How do we change that? Well, one, if your firm foundation is not on the Bible itself, don’t expect to impact the culture, don’t expect to make a difference. Don’t expect to be a light. Don’t expect to be any type of salt. Because you’re not gonna be savory. Nobody wants old salt, or salt that’s not even really salt, basically garlic. You know, you guys gotta look at that image, okay? If you wanna be an impact today, then you gotta have a firm foundation in Christ. You gotta have it in the Bible. You gotta be spending time outside of here on Sundays learning about who God really is. That means that’s a relationship, guys. When you guys are interested in that opposite sex, you know that man or woman that you really want to marry, or you want to date, do you just spend one minute a day talking about them or thinking about them? What do you do? You don’t stop thinking about them. You don’t stop wanting to read the letters they sent you and the texts they sent you. You save the voicemail and you play it over and over and over again. Why? Because you like hearing their voice. You like hearing them call your name out. Guess what? That’s what God does. He calls you out. He speaks to you. He cares about you. He gave you a purpose. He gives you the Scriptures. He’s teaching you all this stuff about who he is, and he’s speaking to you. The problem is are you listening? Or are you so focused on wanting to be something so much that you stop, and you ignore his talking to you? Because I heard people say, well I’ve never heard him speak. My question is, maybe he is, maybe you’re just not listening because it’s not what you want to hear.

We spend so much time trying to second guess God, trying to get ahead of the game, that we create what we want to hear and want to believe that it’s him speaking, that when it’s actually him speaking you say no, like I did for four years, because you don’t want it to be that answer. You don’t want God to be saying this is what I want you to do, or this is what I want you to do right now. I hate my job, I don’t wanna be here, well guess what, I want you here, because there are people here that I want you to impact. Well I don’t wanna be here. There’s people I want you to impact. I don’t wanna do that. Then you’re not listening to me speaking. My kid’s having a hard time, he’s struggling in his faith. My daughter is like, hanging out with people. Are you reaching out to God asking him what to do? Are you talking to other people in the church, help me with your kids? You don’t have to face it on your own. Satan is already devised into us that we have to be individuals that don’t need anything, individuals that are weak, and so we need to be strong by going inside us and figuring out how strong we can actually be. So, he puts you through all these different things you can go through, all these different programs that can help you, when the program you need right now is just the Holy Spirit and God standing right in front of you, because he gave you his word. And if your foundation isn’t on there, don’t expect these programs to help you. They’re false, they’re not gonna work. They’re just gonna give you a little bit of peace, but the true peace is in Christ.

So now we’ve come to what is wisdom? Wisdom is defined, wisdom is the ability to make godly choices in life. Sounds simple right now, right? You achieve this goal by applying God’s truth to your life so that your choices will indeed be good. That’s the rest of it. So just having knowledge is not enough. Just knowing what’s right and wrong is not enough. It’s doing what you’re supposed to be doing, what God is asking you. Applying everything you’ve learned to be a part of your life, not just to be a thought in your head. Because that’s not enough. That is not what he’s asking of you. If you’re going to surrender all of you, all of yourself to him, that requires you to surrender all that you have. That means your family, your friends, things you love, your money, your prestige, your honor, everything, your pride. All of that needs to be his. Give it to him. Because then he will take that and use you through everything that you are in, and you will be better. Like we don’t understand, but when you take in God’s word, it becomes part of who you really are, because it gets buried into your heart. But if you’re filling it with just the world’s views, and beliefs, and structures, and philosophies, don’t expect it to be godly. Don’t expect your heart to tell you what is true and what is right, because we are in definition deceitful. Because we are full of the sin nature. And it’s only by God’s grace and because of Christ and what he’s done that we can even do good things. Because it’s not natural for us to want to do good. It is more natural for us to want to do good for ourselves.

So, in closing, have you ever questioned your faith? If you haven’t, you should. Not denying it but questioning it. Why? Because by questioning it, that challenges you. It challenges you to do research. It challenges you to learn more about the Bible. It challenges you to uplift and make your faith be stronger. Because if you’re not questioning, that means you’re satisfied. That means you’re happy where you’re at. And if you’re satisfied and happy where you’re at, Satan doesn’t need to work on you, because you think you know it all. You think you’re where you’re supposed to be. You think that you can never go further. That’s a false view. That’s Satan wanting you to quit. Stop trying. You’re never going to be good enough. Look, you didn’t go to school, you didn’t get a degree. Look, you’re worthless, just stay where you’re at. You can never be a pastor, it’s not possible. That’s lies guys, it’s all lies. You can’t accomplish something, you’re never gonna make it. That’s a lie. Satan wants you to think that. He wants you to think that you’re hopeless, and that where you’re at, that’s where you’re gonna stay at. That’s not true. It doesn’t mean you’re gonna be rich, but it means that you have a purpose, because you’re still breathing. And you can take each opportunity, even where you’re at, to be a better person for Christ because you’re willing to put him first in your life and let him be sovereign in your whole house, not just a part of it. That means cleaning out, guys. There’s gonna be things that you just have to throw out of your thinking. There’s gonna be stuff that you just have to remove, because if you are truly studying the Scripture and you are seeking out God’s truth, then you are gonna see things that you shouldn’t be thinking, you’re gonna be wanting things that you’re gonna want because they’re gonna be godly. You’re gonna be desiring things that you’ve never desired before because it’s gonna be godly. And then there’s gonna be things that you once desired that may not be useful anymore, you’re gonna throw it outside, it’s gonna be part of the trash. That’s okay. There might be friends that you have to let go. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you don’t stop praying for them, but if they’re making you fall and making you falter and you’re not walking how you’re supposed to, then they’re not helping you on your walk.

So, remember, it’s okay to doubt, but own it. You can’t just doubt and that’s it. Owning it means figuring out why you’re doubting this. Because I could tell you this, I’ve doubted three times in my life about my salvation. One after I got saved, about a year later. Another time when I was in high school. And one in the six years I was waiting for ministry. I wondered if I wasn’t a Christian, if that’s why I wasn’t seeing anything. It’s okay to doubt. Why? Because it challenges you to learn more about who you are in Christ. So, if you stop doubting, then you’re gonna miss out on other things that he can possibly show you.

[1] Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

[2] Ecclesiastes 2:18-20

[3] Ecclesiastes 6:10

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