Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 028 All is Vanity
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #028 – All Is Vanity
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed to be back with you today to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
Would you agree that life in this generation is so convenient?
We carry and rely on so many gadgets and items never deemed as necessary in previous eras.
But I have to admit that digital photos are definitely convenient and I truly adore the fact that I no longer have to carry a camera and or video recorder with me to events. We usually forgot them half of the time anyway.
The sheer fact that our cell phones can do everything we want is mind-boggling and amazingly convenient. They also make it much easier to leave the house because I rarely forget my phone.
Although we can store photos on our phone, tablet devices, or computers so easily, I must admit that I really do miss sitting down and flipping through photo albums.
Last week the girls asked me about high school yearbooks. They wanted to know if I knew where mine were and they asked to see them.
Talk about embarrassing! In their eyes, I must have been the most beautiful teen in the book. Ha! I honestly hated shattering their image. To their credit, they were honest, but kind in their opinion.
Looking at all the photos, writings from friends, and talking about stories of old boyfriends and best friends from my high school years was very entertaining for them. Do you want to hear what they enjoyed the most?
It was seeing photos of me and their daddy. Since we met during our senior year of high school, they had a ball looking at photos of the two of us throughout the yearbook, and they were absolutely captivated by more stories of our dating adventures.
Reviewing those old photos, hearing their excited voices, and seeing their eyes light with love at my narrations brought joy to sweet memories tucked within my heart and just felt good.
Are you like me?
Do you view memories almost as digital snapshots of life?
That’s actually the way I see them in my mind.
Oddly, I have found that I don’t always get to choose which photos end up in my album.
Life is full of numerous moments we long to remember, but the images that store themselves in our brain for easy retrieval are sometimes not what we expect.
It’s especially interesting to talk to people who have lived and experienced the same event. The recollections can be so different! We know it is because we all experience and react to events based on what we have encountered or endured, so our opinions will be formulated through the lens of our past.
I’m often surprised by what I remember. Not so much how I recall it, but which events of my life somehow get selected and placed in the album of my consciousness.
Some of my memories appear to me as videos in my mind. Instead of flipping through photos, I see whole scenes that play as a movie.
One of those times was when I was in my mid-twenties. My husband was driving me and our two children home one night. I don’t recall where we had been, but it was late and as he drove, the kids were quiet or sleeping in the backseat. As I watched out the window, I noticed all the bright stars in the clear night sky and began thinking about eternity. I wondered what heaven would be like, when I would be there, if my children would lose me as they grew up, or whether I would be on earth at least until they reached adulthood. I had numerous thoughts about God and then I wondered whether I would be bored when I got to heaven. I didn’t have any desire to leave this world soon.
Can you believe that?
That thought shows me how much deeper my relationship with God is now.
Without a doubt, I now know that I will never be bored in heaven. I am excited to one day sit with Jesus and learn all I can. Can you imagine the love we will experience, the peace and joy, we will feel when we see Him face-to-face? I’m ready to embrace Him and be embraced by Him. I can’t wait to see my parents, loved ones, and especially my daughter. My first born child.
So why does the memory of that night stick so highly in my mind?
I think maybe it is because I was genuinely curious. I had not known Jesus for too many years and I truly did not want to leave my children or husband. I hoped eternity was a long way off. I wanted to raise my kids and experience life. I still do. Unbelievably, I’ve raised those children and am now raising another set, so of course, I prefer to be able to stay and raise them at least to adulthood, but I am also fully prepared to meet my Heavenly Father whenever His timing may come.
While there is nothing wrong with desiring to be here with family, the Lord has grown me enough by this point that I now hope He returns soon for all of us who love and follow Him. I want Him to rescue us from this place. I want to go with my family and loved ones and experience heaven as God promises. I see the futility in our daily life here. I know nothing here will ever satisfy any of us. We were intentionally created for more.
When I remember who I was at that time, I see how little I knew and how hollow much of what I did was. I am thankful for who I have become and who I am becoming. While I once loved this world more than God, I now love Jesus, who lives in me, more than what this world offers.
If we study the definition of vanity, we see excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, and achievements. It also means the character or quality of being vain, and conceited or something about which one is vain or excessively proud.
The definition I want us to focus on today is a lack of real value, something hollow, or worthless when compared to eternity.
Life is empty and meaningless without God.
What we chase in this life is vanity.
Do you know who the wisest man who ever lived was? Besides Jesus, of course.
The book of Ecclesiastes reveals the life of Solomon, who searched for deeper meaning in the world and found nothing could satisfy but God, despite the fact that Solomon had deep, wide wisdom from God, material wealth, goods, and property. He learned that nothing he sought after offered meaning in life or filled the empty holes in his spirit.
Ecclesiastes 3:11b says, “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
God placed eternity in our hearts, but we get distracted and confused in this broken world. We seek everything but what satisfies the deepest parts of our souls. What God placed in us to desire and need cannot be found or quenched through encounters, experiences, or possessions in this world.
Solomon offers us valuable insight into what he learned during his life journey of seeking frivolous enjoyment, and material possessions. He found that absolutely none of them filled him with joy or offered meaning to his life.
There are three main themes that run though the book of Ecclesiastes.
1. Solomon shares about carrying a fear of God. Living in awe and respect of our Heavenly Father is crucial. So many do not keep a reverent fear of God that drives us to recognize His sovereignty and guides us to worship Him with a humble love and obedience and causes us to recognize that our life has no meaning without Him.
2. We are all created by God for a purpose. Life on this earth is over so quickly when viewed with an eternal perspective. Living with the knowledge that God lovingly gave each one of us a purpose that speaks to our heart and soul when we obey Him, should cause us to focus on the goal of eternity. Jesus counseled us against laying up treasures on this earth. All we do should be directed by keeping our heart and mind fixed on God and preparing ourselves and others for eternity with Him. Solomon speaks of the brevity of life and living in ways that please our Father and guide us toward focusing on what matters to Him.
3. Living in a world affected by the fall and the curse of sin is shown in Solomon’s words through Ecclesiastes. After we labor through our life, we all return to the ground, just as we first began. Solomon reveals how hollow life is without God and that joy and contentment are found only through Him.
Without an eternal perspective lifestyle, we each fail to find satisfaction or meaning in life on earth. If we search without finding God, we can fall into deeper despair and will continually look for substitutes to fill the void inside. Those replacements never satisfy fully or can ever take the place of the joy and peace that only God can give. That is exactly why there are so many hurting and hurtful people living on this earth.
What made King Solomon, known for his wisdom and knowledge seek out the meaning of life? Didn’t he already possess anything a person could want? Solomon was a man on a mission to discover the true meaning of life. He had tasted all life offered, but found that without truly seeking and knowing a close relationship with God, he had nothing.
Solomon learned that all of life is meaningless if we do not acknowledge God. In order to acquire true joy or fulfillment, we must recognize and acknowledge God as the Creator, Giver, and Source of all.
Because Solomon left the God he knew and followed in his youth, he lost the ability to enjoy the gifts God had bestowed to him. Despite the wisdom God gave to him, Solomon made significant errors in judgement and lifestyle choices that finally offered him awareness of the futility of life without God because wisdom and knowledge alone do not satisfy the desire God placed within us to know and fellowship with Him.
Ecclesiastes 1:14 says, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.”
So many truths about living the life God wants for us are found in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon had all a man could want and still made many dreadful mistakes. Without walking with and obeying the Lord, he found that his worldly wisdom, regarded highly by humans, was way beneath that of God’s.
Wisdom without knowledge, understanding, and obedience to God is worthless.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
How could Solomon, who was regarded as the wisest man who ever lived, make such drastic mistakes? Although He was incredibly intelligent, he did not remain faithful to God throughout his lifetime. Later in Solomon’s life, he actually became disobedient to God and instead of becoming contrite and repenting to his Heavenly Father, Solomon instead continued in transgressions that led to his destruction and the fall of the kingdom he ruled.
How often do we make the same missteps? We may not rule a kingdom like Solomon did, but we all rule over something.
We each desire to be the Lord of our life unless we are fully submitted and committed to Jesus.
Without Him, we run the risk of making many of the same mistakes as the wisest man who ever lived.
Upon his deathbed, Solomon’s father, David left important instructions with his son, reminding Solomon of the only way to live successfully and prosper.
1 Kings 2:1-3 says, “When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to Him, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”
David’s dying words left Solomon with instructions he should have heeded, but did not.
Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Solomon drifted far away from where he started. Instead of focusing on intentionally drawing nearer to God each moment, he delighted in obtaining things of this world and believed the wisdom that God bestowed on Him was greater than what God Himself possessed. As king, attaining pleasures was easy for Solomon and he was more captivated with earthly lusts than heavenly afterlife or the God he once loved with a passion.
1 Kings 8:61 says, “And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”
Devotion to anything or anyone is difficult. Our minds and hearts stray so easily and usually fall back to self needs or desires. It takes great resolution and dedication to remain devoted, especially to a God we cannot see.
Solomon wanted God at one time. He just valued and wanted other things more.
What should we glean from studying the life of Solomon?
1. Humbly bow before the Lord and ask for grace, mercy, and faith.
2. Ask God to bless your walk and relationship with Him.
3. Find ways to change your course to be in right fellowship with Him or continue deepening your journey with Him.
4. Place God above all else, even the blessings in your life.
5. Do not stray. Remain dedicated to knowing and trusting God more deeply daily.
Jeremiah 17:5-10 says, “This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
I find the following to be an interesting verse. The Bible speaks several times of circumcision of our hearts.
Deuteronomy 10:16 says, “Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.”
To circumcise means to purify spiritually. Only the Holy Spirit can purify our heart. The Holy Spirit comes to us through Jesus Christ as our Savior. The Holy Spirit then lives within us to continually alter and purify us as we allow His work in and through us.
Just what does God look for in us? What would a circumcised heart look like?
1. Pure hearts that want to know Him.
2. Obedient hearts that follow where He leads.
3. Dedicated hearts that do not drift from Him.
4. Believing hearts that trust Him.
5. Servant hearts that spread Him.
6. Praising hearts that honor and thank Him.
7. Loving hearts that share Him.
Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”
God wants us to love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul and love others enough to educate and equip them to do the same.
Matthew 22:37-40 says, “Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Ecclesiastes is filled with such wisdom from God. The life of Solomon could leave us filled with sorrow for what he lost, for what could have been, but I hope we use it to spur us on so that we do not fall prey to the same mistakes.
What are other important takeaways we should remember from the book of Ecclesiastes?
1. We are but a vapor, regardless of what our earthly status may be.
2. Life in this world is not fair by our standards.
3. Do not trust in the emptiness of this life.
4. Toil and achievement that we produce because we envy another is pointless.
5. Whomever loves money will never have enough.
6. Our earthly wisdom is vanity and far beneath that of God’s.
7. Seeking nothing but pleasure is futile.
8. Everything we toil after is trivial.
9. Life is meaningless without God.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Thankfully, we can rest in the assurance and provision of the gift God offered us through Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus is the same from beginning to end, first to last, alpha to omega. We know the plan God had for each of us, if only we accept.
Dear God, please help us make the most of this wonderful opportunity to seek and find Jesus, to draw near to You, and to embrace the moments You allow us here. May we look forward to eternity with You and keep the proper perspective while we roam this land that will never satisfy like You will one day. Help us to recognize and extract what is meaningless and treasure what will last for eternity. May we please You with our circumcised heart and show others the way to You because we allow You to shine so brightly within and before us.
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