Men’s Breakfast August 15, 2015
Meaningless … My Dad likes the word “Pitiful”. “That’s pitiful” … my Dad likes that phrase … The book of Ecclesiastes is written by an old man, who happens to be the King of Israel and the son of David. So, this is Solomon. Solomon is looking back on his life, successes and failures, highs and lows, and giving an honest assessment of what he has learned, in hopes of someone learning from his life. It is about the meaning of life, the important things in life. Over and Over he says “meaningless” maybe he would say like my Dad “that’s pitiful”. I think 35 times Solomon says “meaningless”. The word, hebel = vapor, vanity, breath, nothingness, perishable, void
The word means it goes, it’s gone, and you have NOTHING to show for it. We are going to consider this word today in one area. I was asked to give consideration to the phrase “I’ve got your back”.
Of the 35 times that Solomon uses the word and for a variety of topics. This related topic is found in Chapter 4:7-11. Tell me if you can hear Solomon say “that’s pitiful”
Ecclesiastes 4:7–8 (NIV84)
7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: 8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business!
Did you hear it? Where was it? V8 “for whom am I toiling” … and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” this too is meaningless – a miserable business!
How does he start out? I saw something meaningless … there was a man alone
Now maybe you LIKE your ALONE time … I think we all do. But being truly alone
Solomon says is “empty, void, life a breath, nothingness … meaningless” … to spend all of your energy, to spend all of your time, to give your life to something, to risk your life, it should be FOR something and someone.
Do you get this image as he begins … There was a man all alone
The ESV says one person who has no other
THIS is nothingness … Gentlemen, when I first said “a man alone”, some of you thought “oh I wish” but this is truly sadness, emptiness, a life lived with nothing to show for it.
Solomon’s purpose in all of this is to show where meaning can be found.
Meaning is found in finding purpose for everything, and that everything has a purpose. That is the point of this entire book.
Men we tend to be lone wolves. We may like being on a team, but don’t want to be too close, we don’t want to reveal too much. Maybe this conversation itself is a little too close, a little too uncomfortable. We don’t want to reveal too much.
But Solomon says we need people, we need someone to share it with. What point is a victory with no one to give a “high five”? I saw a clip from the Chicago White Sox this week and a rookie got his first major league homerun and he came to the dugout and he walked through the dugout and no one looked at him, no one celebrated, and he just high fived the air … then at the end … they jumped around him and celebrated.
This sad picture … is a man working hard, working with no stopping … yet never content with what he achieved … and looks up from his toil, and says “for whom am I toiling”. Oh you can be sure it isn’t because there wasn’t anyone, but he had LOST them … he looked up and they were gone and I hear my Father say “that is pitiful” … Solomon says “a miserable business” …
Do you know someone like that? I won’t ask if that is you. But what do we do?
What does Solomon say we should do? It is what we have said “I’ve Got Your Back”
Ecclesiastes 4:9–11 (NIV84)
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Living, Working, Fighting, Dying … ALONE … that’s Meaningless … But we don’t have to …
Life to LIFE men … Back to Back … Face to Face, Eye to Eye … sometimes nose to nose but doing LIFE …
Got any battles you are facing? If I asked you to make a list of 10 of the biggest challenges you have faced, and then asked you which ones have you handled mostly alone, and which ones you have reached out for help, which list would be greater? ALONE? Probably … or is it just me. Men, I’m talking to myself today.
I’ve never been to war, but is that the way you go to war?
No, but is that the way we do it too often? YES
But SHOULD it?
No, Solomon says “TWO are Better than ONE” Don’t we see that? Adam couldn’t be alone, so God gave him Eve because it wasn’t good for him to be alone. Yes we have spouses if we are blessed, and perhaps children, but we need each other Gentlemen. What do you call them? Battle Buddies, Wingmen … If I’ve got a weapon, if I’m in a plane, why do I need a Battle Buddy?
Blind Spots, Protection, Encouragement, Accountability, Vulnerability
Are those things only for war? Or maybe I should say it this way, is ANYTHING NOT war?
Eph 6 says we wrestle not against flesh and blood but rulers and power, authorities, forces of this dark world
Peter says that our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour
Jesus said the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy …
We Are at War … we will always need a Battle Buddy, a Wingman …
In your marriage you need to be back to back with a man who will ask you if you are treating her right, if you are caring for your kids
In your thought life, you need to be back to back with a man who will ask you what you are dwelling on, what you are putting into your mind, in front of your eyes
Two are better than one …
I pictured one of those Big Two Handled Tree Saws … would you rather be ONE Big Burley Lumberjack, or have another on the other side. Sometimes we don’t know any better. Perhaps you have always thought, being a man means getting it done alone. But you don’t have to … Heard about the old guy who got a new fangled chain saw. He was given one told it would cut his work to a fraction. He brought it back to the store and asked for his money because he couldn’t get anything done with it. The guy took it from him and Cranked it up and Scared the guy out of his pants … “wow … what is that, that is loud”. He had power but wasn’t using it.
Two are BETTER than one … they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down … his friend can help him. Why do we refuse help, or always stay alone, we need some help to get up. Sometimes we don’t even know
Jorge and I were in El Salvador, it had been a long hard day in the hot sun. We were riding back from a remote village and it had slowly gotten dark and we were standing in the back of this pick up and it was nice, we were tired, but a good tired. I was looking around at the night. I said to Jorge “Wow, it is really dark out here away from lights of the city”. I said “I don’t think I have ever seen it so dark.” Jorge looked at me, smiled, and reached up to my face and took off my sunglasses”. We need someone with us.
If you fall down, if you have FALLEN down, who is going to help you up?
Pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up
We don’t have to be alone … but we have to ask …
What do we have to do for Back to Back to happen?
We have to TRUST,
We have to take position
We have to get close
We have to be willing
But what a return …
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves
I don’t care how good you are, you can’t see your back, you can’t defend both sides, you can’t handle overwhelming force …
But two … back to back … now we have got something
And three … a triple braided cord is NOT quickly broken
Two can defend, Three can stand, Four can advance
And if you and I, if WE, have God in the mix … Joshua 23:9-10 The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10 one of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you 11 so be careful to love the Lord your God
The story of scripture is full of men standing together. It is full of men and women in committed marriages relying on God. Moses in Exodus 17 had a command to keep his hands up while God’s people fought a battle. He couldn’t do it alone, his arms got tired. Sometimes we lose, not because we don’t want to obey, we just get tired … but he had Aaron, an older brother, and Hur, a young man, and they held his hands up. They enabled him to obey when he wasn’t physically able … we need each other
… Joshua at the end of his life says … Joshua 24:14–16 (NIV84)
14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” 16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!
When we first read this we see a man standing alone … but is that really what it is?
No I don’t think so. We look at the world we live in and it seems more and more that we are forced to “stand alone” but are we really? Oh the world may be evil, and Christians may be the cross hairs but so it has always been … but generally you aren’t really standing alone, few times is that completely true. Noah was the only man recorded as faithful to the Lord in his day … but he still had his family, wife, three sons, and their wives.
David had Jonathan, and then his men that stood with him through thick and thin.
Paul had Barnabas, then Silas, but also Timothy and Luke and others alone the way
Barnabas had Paul, then Mark
Jesus had disciples, though the day came when he died alone on a hill, but John was there to the end
So I look again at Joshua at Shechem telling the people to make a choice … As for ME and My House …
Joshua knew what it was to be singled out … Back there after leaving Egypt … Israel came to the promised land … 12 spies were sent in to scout out the land and when they came home 10 of them said “yeah it’s beautiful, yeah it’s flowing with milk and honey … BUT there are Giants in the Land” … They together FORGOT … IGNORED the Word of God. God said it was THEIRS … the question … would they go together … and there stood Joshua alone … saying “we can do this” … wait no he wasn’t … he wasn’t standing alone … he was back to back with Caleb … He silenced the people and said “we should go up and take possession, we certainly can do this” (Num 13:30) … Back to back … men … we need someone with us that says “we SHOULD” and “we CAN”
And so after 40 years in the desert, God’s people went into Canaan, all of that generation had died, but there was Joshua leading the people and there was Caleb still back to back at 85 years of age … why? Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly (Num 14:24) … If you are picking your Battle Buddy, your Wingman, we need a guy like that don’t we? Someone that isn’t your average guy,, someone who follows wholeheartedly …
Oh what was Joshua saying that day in Shechem when he said Fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness, throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the river … and serve the Lord … if serving the Lord seems undesirable … then choose you this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
What was he saying, Yes he was willing to stand alone. And a man of principle, a man of faith, a man of God, must be WILLING to stand alone … but what he is saying is … I am going to Serve God, no matter the no, no matter who else does … but WHO IS WITH ME?
Who has Got My Back?
Who is with me?
We can do this
Have you fallen down?
Holler out … we will help you up
Don’t do this alone
Don’t fight for your marriage alone
Don’t fight addiction alone
Don’t fight satan alone
Don’t fight for answers alone
We ARE with you.
Will you let us?
Will you walk together with someone?
Make a decision Amos 3:3 do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?