“Meaninglessness is Not Meaningless”

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Date: 02-21-15

The Big Idea: The word, ‘meaningless,’ is not really meaningless.

My Thoughts: 

Recently in a men’s Bible study, I had a life wrecking epiphany. It arrived somewhat as a climax to a longer journey. This journey has taken me from meaninglessness to meaningfulness. I discovered that the word, ‘meaningless’ is not really meaningless. Let me explain.

In our men’s weekly Bible study, we have been going through the book of Ecclesiastes and throughout its pages I have been learning that I need to live in the moment but not for the moment. As we continued this excursion through Ecclesiastes, I kept struggling with this. To me, it appears that the former leads to Life when I’m living in the moment for Jesus, but somehow the latter leads to a disconnected life, at best—one I am all too familiar with. …

At some point in my earlier years, I slipped into a very nihilistic, fatalistic philosophical morass, and sadly, even when I became a believer in Jesus, I would often slip back into this black vortex. I would seek out the perverted comfort of darkness by reading the Book of Ecclesiastes and wallow in the meaninglessness of its pages….

Or so I thought.

This wrecking epiphany began when we saw that one translation in particular (noted below), used the word “fleeting,” while other translations used words like, “meaningless,” or “vanity,” or “futility,” or even “pointless”. What did the Hebrew word mean, and why was it translated so?

Through various study sources, we came to understand that the word translated ‘fleeting’ means “breath” or “wind”. It carries with it the idea of useless and transitory things. From here we understood that the ‘things’ of this world offer a fleeting, transitory measure of satisfaction, but in the long run they “whoosh” like the wind. This ‘whoosh’ leaves us with wanting more and more and ultimately never satisfies.

From here I reasoned that life (lower case) really wasn’t so much meaningless as it was fleeting and unsubstantial. In this way seeking this life and the ‘things’ it offers most definitely can lead to meaninglessness, though not immediately. If I place my hope in the temporal, fleeting things of this seen world, then, yes, it leads to meaninglessness. But if I live in the moment for Jesus, the Life in Him is true substance and significance. Then the ‘things’ of this world do indeed fade away, but prior to their ‘fleeing,’ they are used for that which is truly greater & more substantial: His Good & His Glory.

The things of this world then become a means to an end and not an end in and of themselves. Living for them moment makes them an end in themselves, and thus a disconnected ‘meaninglessness’ arrives, but when I live in the moment for the eternal Jesus, His Life infuses the moment’s meaning for a greater, more substantial Moment.

Now some may find this rather heady and disconnected, but for me it gives the moments I have dreaded meaning. This understanding moves me away from a nihilistic/fatalistic view of the moment, to a larger view of Life and Hope and Meaning. Instead of wishing away the day hoping to be with Jesus in the by-and-by, I can truly live in the moment with Jesus and for Jesus. His Life—His eternal Life—is here and now as well as to come! It is both a quality of Life and a quantity of life.

The wrecking? I am moving from a disconnected isolation of moments and relationships to more substantial feelings and Life. Ironically, I have to experience the pain & discomfort of the moment in order to experience the Life and Hope and Joy. Living the old way with its inevitable detached numbing was safer insofar as pain was concerned, but no joy, no hope…, and no meaning. But as I am being reformed out of the ashes of this recking, I am trusting the Lord Jesus to ‘rebuild’ the neuronetwork of my numbed feelings so that I may be more what He has designed me to be.

Clearly, this is but the beginning of the “moment” of the wrecking/rebuilding process, but for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am looking forward to the next “moment” with Hope and not dread.

Main Text: —Ecclesiastes 11:10  — So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. [NASB95]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. — Philippians 1:6 (NIV84)

  May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. — Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV84)

   The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.— Psalm 138:8 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father,  I humbly submit to the transforming work of Your Holy Spirit. I rest in the Peace that passes all understanding as I greet each moment and live in it for the glory of Your Son, Jesus.  In His Name, Amen.

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“God’s Will & Opposition”

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Date: 02-10–15

Text: — Nehemiah 4:1-3 — 1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, 2 and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” [NIV84]

The Big Idea: Expecting opposition better prepares us for it; Expecting victory through the opposition fuels our resolve and doubles our joy.

My Thoughts: 

Finally, we act; we step out in bold faith and confident assurance because we are so convinced the Lord wants us to do something. We move in the direction we sense He is prompting us. Suddenly, almost without warning, “Slam!” We’re hit by some resistance; some terrible opposition to our direction. Questions flood our minds as doubt floods our souls. “Did I hear the Lord right? Why all this difficulty and struggle? Why this opposition?”

Lifestyle worshiper, does this describe you? Are you one that feels that any opposition demonstrates that you are out of God’s will? Allow me to suggest to you that, in fact, opposition is almost certain to come when you are doing the will of God. As the old WWII saying goes, “You know you’re close to the target when the flack starts flying!”

I was one who would whine and complain with each wave of opposition, but I am learning that through the passage of time and the presence of struggle the character of Christ is forged in me. So as I walk in obedience to the Lord; as I fulfill the dreams and destiny that He has designed for me, I will encounter strong opposition as Nehemiah did (noted in the above passage). And, as Nehemiah did not: I will not complain or whine to the Lord. Instead, I will follow his example and pray to the Lord Almighty: “Hear us, O our God, for we are despised” (4:4). And keep working….

Expecting opposition better prepares us for it; Expecting victory through the opposition fuels our resolve and doubles our joy.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.

— 2 Timothy 3:12-14 (NIV84)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. — Philippians 1:27-28 (NIV84)

Then [Paul & Barnabas] returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. — Acts 14:21b-22 (NIV84)

  Lord Jesus Christ,  forgive me for giving up when the slightest hint of opposition arises. Fuel my passion with the Power of Your Holy Spirit to overcome the opposition and persevere  in Your strength to accomplish Your bidding.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike