Living the Ultimate Life Pt.3 – 3 Meaningful Ways to Live
Ecclesiastes 11:1-8 NLT – 1 Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. 2 But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead. 3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down. Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls. 4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. 7 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. 8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.
There once was a very cautious man Who never laughed or played;
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed. And when he one day passed away His insurance was denied;
For since he never really lived, They claimed he never died! —–Source Unknown.
Are you one of those people who always plays it safe and never takes any risks? Are you afraid to try something you have never tried before because you might fail? Are you afraid to try something new because you might not like it? Do you sit back and wait on life to come to you or do you go out and meet life head on?
ILLUSTRATION: John Henry Jowett, the nineteenth century British preacher once wrote about how our temptation to self-preservation leads to faithless living. Jowett said……. It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows through the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if a man’s ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is simple: shed your ambitions in every direction, cut the wings of every soaring purpose, and seek a life with the fewest contacts and relations. If you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble, you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass. Tiny souls can dodge through life; bigger souls are blocked on every side. As soon as a man begins to enlarge his life, his resistances are multiplied. Let a man remove his petty selfish purposes and enthrone Christ, and his sufferings will be increased on every side.
In our scripture study today Solomon challenges us to move from a boring, hum drum existence to living life to the fullest, to LIVE THE ULTIMATE LIFE!
I. Live GENEROUSLY
Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 NLT – Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. 2 But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.
- One of our biggest temptations in life is to give up or to quit too soon when we don’t see quick results. But Solomon is telling us there is power in persistence.
- In verse 1 Solomon is describing the great risks taken by the merchants of his day. The merchants would put their merchandise on boats to be shipped to foreign ports, hoping for a profitable return after many days.
- In I Kings 10:11 we learn that some of the chief exports of Israel in Solomon’s day were gold, precious stones, and rare exotic woods. But the chief export of Israel was “bread” referring to grain.
When these ships were sent out they would face many dangers.
- -If the ship ran into a storm and wrecked, the merchants would suffer a total loss.
- -If enemies attacked the ship the merchandise would be stolen.
- -If the ship captain was crooked, and many of them were, he would sell the merchandise and keep the profit for himself.
- -And there were no insurance policies in those days to cover losses.
- So when Solomon says (NKJV),“Cast your bread upon the waters” (notice plural) what he is saying is, “Don’t put all of your grain on one ship. Instead, “cast your bread” or “spread the grain out” to several ships, that way if one ship goes down in a storm or gets attacked by enemies, you won’t suffer a total loss.”
- In fact, Solomon goes on to say in verse 2, “spread the grain or bread out seven or eight different ways.” And sure enough, “after many days” the cargo ships would return and according to I Kings 10:15,22 they would be loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes and monkeys from other countries.
- So what does this mean to you and me in a practical sense? It means “spread your generosity” “spread your blessings around,” “diversify,” or as grandma used to say, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”
THE KEY TO Living the Ultimate LIFE IS A HEART OF GENEROSITY.
The meaning of life is not about what you get but what you give.
Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV 24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
- another translation – “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed. Those who help others are helped.”
•Generosity doesn’t start when you have a lot, it starts when you have little!
- Your giving and generosity should be directly tied to what God allows to come into your life.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, NIV 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…
The story is told that one day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander the Great as he passed by. The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler, no right to even life a solicitous hand. Yet the Emperor threw him several gold coins. A courtier was astonished at his generosity and commented, “Sir, copper coins would adequately meet a beggar’s need. Why give him gold?”
Alexander responded in royal fashion “Copper would suit the beggar’s need, but gold coins suit Alexander’s giving.”
Very few people these days, have “the Great” added to their names. When we think of Alexander the Great, most people think of the historical figure, who was young, eccentric, a brilliant military strategist with blond hair and bulging muscles and looks like Colin Farrell. However, one of the secrets of all greatness is revealed through generosity.
He didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. But his way of thinking challenged the thinking of not just the courier, but everyone who had the privilege of being in the presence of greatness. He just didn’t subdued kingdoms with superior military strategy, but conquered mediocrity through his generous life.
“Your standard of giving reflects your standard of living”
Acts 20:35 It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Generosity: A courageous disposition full of the Spirit, that is evidenced by:
•A quality of heart and mind opposed to meanness
•A nobleness of soul that is empowered to bestow favor
•A bountiful disposition that is free to give with bold liberality
Galatians 6:10 (NKJV) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
•”There’s no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can’t do any business from there” Col. Sanders (he gave $2 million to the AG missions prior to his death)
•”Generosity is a good criterion of a person’s mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill people” Dr. Karl Menninger
Love always finds a way: selfishness always finds an excuse!
God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. You were put on Earth to make a contribution.
You weren’t created just to consume resources – to eat, breath, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. God wants to you to give something back! (If TCT has given to you, GIVE back)
II. Live Boldy
Ecclesiastes 11:3-6 NLT – 3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down. Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls. 4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.
1. Solomon now shifts from the example of merchants in verses 1,2 to example of farmers in verses 3-6.
2. If ever there was an occupation that requires taking bold risks of faith, it would be a farmer. Notice again in verse 4 Solomon says, “If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”
3. What Solomon is saying is, “If a farmer waits until the conditions are absolutely perfect he will never get anything done.”
4. If the farmer waits to sow his see until there is absolutely no wind blowing, he will never get his crops planted. And if he stays out of the fields every time he sees a dark cloud fearing it might rain, he will never get his crops harvested.
5. You see, a farmer has to take some BOLD RISKS! A farmer knows he cannot wait until the conditions are absolutely perfect before he takes action.
6. This same principle applies to all of us as well. If you wait until the conditions are absolutely perfect before you ever do anything, you will never do anything. You will spend your whole life in your little “comfort zone” and before you know it your life will be over and you will have little or nothing to show for your time here on earth.
7. How many opportunities have we let slip right through our fingers because we were to afraid to make a decision or take action?
8. Have you been waiting on the “perfect time”…..? The perfect time will never come! Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. Life doesn’t offer any of us any guarantees. As Solomon reminds us in verse 5 , only the good LORD HIMSELF knows everything that will happen. So we have a choice: We can either go through life living in fear, making excuses, scared to make decisions, and afraid to take action………or we can go through life LIVING BOLDLY BY FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
III. Live Gratefully
Ecclesiastes 11:7-7 NLT – 7 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. 8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.
1. Solomon is reminding us in these verses that none of us knows how long we have to live, so we should be grateful for each and every day the LORD gives us.
2. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, I have become more and more grateful to open my eyes each morning to see the first light of day. I often begin my morning prayer with these words: “Good morning God. This is the day that You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
3. Solomon reminds us in verse 8 that over the course of our lifetime all of us will experience many days of darkness, so don’t ruin the good days whining and complaining, and wallowing in regret over what you could have done or should have done with your life.
Psalm 118:1 NIV says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”
•Our Grandma June’s response when being told she has brain cancer – “Hey, well It is what it is” “I’ve lived a long good life and remember I shall Arise again”
“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” – Albert Schweitzer
I Thess. 5:18 NIV – Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
God says “I want you to be thankful in all circumstances.”It does not say “for all circumstances”. You cannot always be thankful for the circumstances, but you can be thankful in the situation. I know that God is working all things for good. He has a pattern and He fits even the bad things in our lives into that pattern for good. God’s purpose for my life is greater than my problems, so in everything I can give thanks. Not “for”, but “in”.
• Sometimes the circumstances of our lives are not always the best. In fact, they may be downright bad, but still, we are to look for something to be thankful for! And there is ALWAYS something positive for which we can be thankful!
Billy Graham comments: “Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” ~ C. S. Lewis
HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED? I’m not asking you how many birthdays have you had or how long have you existed as a living, breathing human being.
I’m asking you “How long have you lived?” When was the last time you felt passionate about something? When was the last time you felt vibrant and alive? When was the last time you felt a sense of purpose? Jesus said John 10:10, “…I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
The truth is there is so much more to life than many of us have experienced. Many of us have settled for a mundane, hum drum, day-to-day existence when we should SEIZE EACH AND EVERY DAY as a precious gift from GOD and live life to the fullest! Live the Ultimate Life!
Let us LIVE GENEROUSLY! Let us LIVE BOLDLY!
Let us LIVE GRATEFULLY!