"What’s the Point?"

Preached by on July 17, 2016
— From the series,

The average American lives 79 years; how are you spending your time?

What’s the Point?

James 4:13-17 & Ecclesiastes 1:2

1)      Introduction

-How will you be remembered? What would people say about you if you were to die soon?

-One part of ministry is funerals. I read a book, and the author, a preacher, mentioned that when people ask him to preside over the funeral, he will meet with the family, and get to know the deceased. He’ll ask questions about what hobbies she did, what career he had, what the person was best known for, and he always prays “Please, Lord, let them say she was a devoted Christian.”

-This past week, we had a funeral service for Marie Ielase Robinson, and there was no doubt in my own mind of her faith. She will be remembered by the love and faith she shared with anyone whose path she crossed.

-But I ask you again, how will you be remembered?

2)      A

-A few weeks ago, the youth group had a pool day at the Clairton pool. We swam from 12-4:30, then had a cookout, I led a devo, and we played games.

-My devo focused on 4:14, how life is a vapor, mist. Explain rope analogy.

-Celebrities who have died this year: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Frank Sinatra JR, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Kimbo Slice, Christina Grimmie, and Anton Yelchin. List of 133 so far ranging in age from 22 to 103.

-And our family at Whitehall has suffered loss. We remember Marie Robsinson, Phil Hill, and Kim Onaitis, just since I’ve been here.

-This year has reminded me more than ever that life is a vapor.

3)      B

-If you do a word study of that word “vapor,” it is the Greek word ἀτμίς. If you look to the OT, there is a Hebrew word that mean vapor, too. And that word is hevel.

-Now, Hevel occurs 73 times in the OT, and 38 times in Ecclesiastes. It typically gets translated as vanity, but vapor is its literal meaning.

-It also has another translation: Abel. The name Abel. We all know the story of Cain and Abel, brother vs. brother. Abel gains favor in God’s sight, Cain gets jealous and murders Abel. Abel was robbed of his life. His life was very short, even more vaporous than most.

-Back to Ecclesiastes. How often have you heard a sermon or class on this book? Not often. This is a misunderstood book. The author, who introduces himself as Qoheleth, Preacher, seems very pessimistic, cynical, and almost depressed. Even some preachers don’t know what to do with the book.

-After all, why does the Bible have a book that repeats the phras “everything is vain/meaningless/vapor?” In a way, the author seemingly says, “What’s the point of doing anything? We all end up in the grave anyways, so what does it matter if you work/don’t, good/evil, wise/unwise, rich/poor, we all die anyways.”

“Life is short, then you die” -Jeffrey

-However, there is a phrase that only appears in Ecclesiastes. “Under the sun.” It appears 26 times throughout the 12 chapters.

-That phrase is what classifies this as religious text.  Think about that phrase. Life under the sun means life on earth, life in this dimension, life as a human. Life without God. And suddenly, the book of Ecclesiastes becomes very relevant to the Christian. Life without God has no point in morality, no point in productivity, no point in living.

-Have you ever talked to someone not of faith? They, too, know that life is short. In fact, I googled the phrase, “Life’s short,” and came up with many catch phrases, most of which are secular. “Life’s short, have a beer. Life’s short, buy a boat! Life’s short, get a career you enjoy.”

-The difference, though, is that each of those are self-centered. Without God, the point of life simply becomes happiness. Philippians 3:19. “their god is their belly.”

4)      C

-Back to that pool day that I mentioned. I told you about the swimming, the devo, the games and the cookout, but I failed to mention one thing. Now, if you saw me the day after, you know which one thing I didn’t mention earlier. Throughout the 4 hours of swimming, I failed to apply even a single layer of sunscreen.

-When I first got there, it wasn’t even a thought in my mind. Then by the first break, I just put on a shirt and stayed out. By about 4pm, someone mentioned “hey, you’re looking a little pink.” And I just thought, “oh no… It’s too late.”

-Needless to say, I looked like a lobster. I was unable to lift my arms, unable to carry a backpack, unable to take a hot shower, and was in pain for over a week straight.

-That night, on my way home from the pool, I stopped off at Giant Eagle and went in to buy aloe vera. “Looking at me, you might not think it, but I’m looking for aloe.” They could have charged me $40 and I still would have bought it.

-I told Pete Hill, yeah it hurts, but somehow this will make a great sermon illustration. I didn’t think I would have one this soon, though. But here’s the application: I was more focused on the pool day than the 9 days to follow. More focused on 4 hours than the 216 hours to follow.

-Same as the rope illustration. I was more focused on the tape than the rope.

5)      D

-I finished reading a book called Not a Fan. In this book, the author distinguishes the differences between being a fan and being a follower of Jesus. One thing he wrote was that a lot of Christians may be in for a rude awakening. No amount of Scripture memorization, no knowledge of Bible facts, and no amount of known Bible characters will get you to Heaven.

-Some Christians spend their time getting down all the stats, like a sports fan. They could tell you how many people Paul baptized, how many miracles Jesus performed, how many lives were changed, but they themselves have missed the calling to be a follower.

-My intention is not to make you feel bad or to call anyone out, I just wanted to share what got me thinking.

6)      E

-Let me put it this way, if you went to the dentist for a regular check-up, and he told you that you have a cavity, would you say, “Yeah, but I like soda too much to quit, so don’t even bother with a crown.”

-Mechanic says: “You’re oil needed changed 10,000 miles ago.” You wouldn’t just leave it.

-If your doctor told you that you have cancer, you wouldn’t just leave it.

-So why do you do that when God confronts you with your sin? Has God exposed you to cancer in your soul?

-The difference between a fan and a follower is that the fan has Scripture memorized; the follower lets that Scripture expose the darkness of their heart, and allows Christ to change them.

7)      Conclusion

-The average American lives 79 years; that’s 4,119 weeks; 28,835 days; 692,040 hours; How are you spending your mist/vapor?

-You have probably heard Jesus call you before. How much longer are you going to wait?

What do you need to do to get right with God?

If you need to accept Christ into your life through baptism, or if you need prayers this morning, I encourage you to come forward.