Leon Fontaine - Idolatry And Chaos
Ecclesiastes is a book that Bible scholars disagree on. I mean, as to why it's in the Bible. If you wanna ever read a book that is just depressing, just read Ecclesiastes. I mean, every chapter is depressing. Every verse is depressing. There only is like two redeemable verses in my mind, at the very end, last two verses 12 chapter. That I've only read it once because it's that bad, okay. I might read the odd verse when I'm doing searching. And so as I prepared this message, then I had to go through it again and again.
And there's a couple of terms that are used all through Ecclesiastes if you'd like to look at it. One term is called under the sun. And he would say it there, there's nothing new under the sun. There's no joy under the sun. And under the sun simply means this planet. This earthly, you know, people. It's not with God. It's without God. And then there's another term he uses all through this book called, it's like chasing the wind. It's like grasping the wind. And so the comments, I can read you scripture after scripture I've got written out here but everyone of these scriptures is kind of like this.
And then when begin to think and meditate on this book, you realize it's actually a teaching on how bad life is when you're in idolatry. I didn't say adultery. I said idolatry. There's a difference. The idols of our lives. And so today, I wanna share with you a very important topic because if you get caught moving away from Christ as a Christian and having other idols in your heart, God's not gonna get you. He loves you. But this idol literally becomes such a frustration, such a heartache in your life.
Now, if I ask most Christians, "Hey, you love Jesus as He the center of your life"? Every Christian goes, "Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes". Everyone says yes. But here's some questions, "What do you daydream about during the day? How do you think about your future? What's this desire for your future? What occupies your thought life every day? What do you think about every day? What do you spend most of your time now doing? And in what ways do you envy others"? Idol worship is not about the stone structure. It's not about someone carving an idol. Idol worship is about your heart and what is first place in your heart? And the reason this is important is not because I need to give you a spanking today. Which it's, because if you have an idol that is there, something that comes first before Jesus.
Listen to me, life will be hell. Hell, off the charts. Hell, your relationships will be frustrating. I mean, finances and career. You gonna become an unhappy person that' trying to be controlling and the messed I've seen in the years that I pastored as people, something comes first before Jesus. Solomon who was the wises man before Christ and he actually was a king. He was king David's son. And as he was about to rule and become the king. God asked him. What would you like for me? And he said, "I want wisdom". And he gave some good answers. God, I want to look after your people as a leader. God said, "Why? You could have asked me anything but because you asked to look after people and you are unselfish. I'm gonna bless you by looking after your enemies, prosper you, give you wisdom. You're gonna have peace. You're gonna be incredible".
And Solomon's life is a stunning look at a successful man. I mean, well not self-made because God blessed him with his abilities. But it's incredible I think, so Solomon though, when he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, like the very opening verse of Ecclesiastes just Ecclesiastes 1 says that, "'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything meaningless.' What do people gain from their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come, generations go, and the earth remains forever. The sun rises, the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south, turns to the north round and round it goes, ever returning on its course as streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, where they return again. All things are wearisome". It gets worse from there. It's just, and that's the first chapter.
Leon, why would God want such a stupid, horrible, negative, give up on life book? Because if you ever get caught in idolatry, these are the feelings that you'll exhibit. And I know ton of Christians who talk to me on a regular basis who feel empty. They're born again spirit-filled believers. You know, they feel empty. They feel like lost in their relationships. It's like their careers are meaningless. They get to a place in their life where everything they've done is questionable. What's the meaning in life? And I see Christians talking this way. Why is that? It's a sign. Listen to me, I'm gonna show you it. It's gonna be happier but it's gonna get worse first. All right?
Because sometimes people think, "Well, you know, Leon, the world's painful". You bet it is. "Leon, the world is a mess". You better believe it. "Leon, there's chaos out there". I know. That's all we deal with heartache and hurt. Solomon talks about seven different idols that he had to deal with and how utterly empty life was when he put each of these desires, each of these idols on the throne of his life. Number one: He talks about chasing after power, chasing after control. I'm gonna control my world, my marriage, my wife, my kids, the business, who's around me, my in-laws, my out-laws, my friend, my town. They need to be in control. These are control freaks, okay. They wanna control everything. The problem with that it's absolutely impossible.
You will be disappointed because you can't control people. And your life is filled with people. Your spouse, your kids, your mother-in-law, your father-in-law, your friends. People who grow up with you. People around you. People who work for you. People you work for. People who control the very industry that you're trying to get ahead. Again, there's so many uncontrollable factors and chaos can be in any of them. So are you gonna find storms and chaos and messes? Absolutely! Are you gonna be able to control your life? Not a chance. Chasing after power, chasing after control always will slip through your grasp like trying to grasp the wind.
The second thing he talks about is relationships. Solomon chased after relationships and he thought they would bring him fulfillment. But for every relationship you've got is going to disappoint you. Don't talk like that. Mama get ready, that cute little two-year-old girl is gonna disappoint you somewhere. Nobody has the ability to be perfect for you. That stunning husband you married will disappoint you. That beautiful wife you married will disappoint you. Nobody has the ability to fulfill you. And everything that you need there's a God size hole inside of you that only God can fill and He made it that way so that you'll always need Him. Who wants God if you don't need Him? Only God can fulfill. And so relationships, you know, I often tease singles but there is no perfect man out there. And if you're married to one and you think you'd be happy if you had a different one.
There is no man in the room that's gonna make you happy. Get over it. Guys, I know that you can look around, "Oh, man, I know that if I have that woman, my life would be". No, it wouldn't. There's no wife that's gonna keep. If relationships become the idol, that all you can think about is your relationship. All you can think about is changing your relationship. All you can think about is fixing the person in your relationship. All think about is controlling the people in your world. You have a new idol and that God is not Jesus that sits on the throne of your heart. And some people who are here and you don't even care about Jesus as long as He gets you a good man. Oh, sweetie, that's a fast ticket to a hellish life, just a man. Guys you might think about, I just marry the right one.
Well, Solomon had a go at it. Three hundred wives later, you think Elizabeth Taylor had it bad. Three hundred wives later and seven hundred girlfriends. I can hear some young guy think, "I'll have a go with that". Most depressing, unhappy thing you could imagine because every relationship will disappoint you. The third thing that was became an idol in his life that he went after was chasing after work, his giftedness, go work hard and then make money. You know, Solomon was so gifted in the area of leadership, management, administration, and creativity. That when you study his life, he was a leader extraordinaire.
Some of you are here, and I mean, you've read every book on leadership. You've read everything on management. You've studied administrative system. You've got your MBA. You're studying Drucker, he's got 80 books. I mean, on and on thinking that, "I'm working". It's going to disappoint you. You will be frustrated if you're whole life and on the throne of your life is money and work. It didn't work for him, his vanity. It was nothing. He was just grasping the wind.
What about pleasure? Well, pleasures they're gonna satisfy me. I just need to have some fun. I wish I had some money to hit some beaches. I want some money. If I had money, I could shop at Shanghai. I could shop in Orange County and I could just go have the stuff. I want the purses. I want the shoes. I want the suits. I want the toys. I want a hot car.
I mean, Solomon had so many horses and so many stables that from around the world he brought the best horse flesh going. He like to ride. He like to see stuff. All these, if there's, Solomon says there wasn't a pleasure that he withheld himself from. And he said it's always flitting. It's just gone. Because pleasure, God wants you to have pleasure. God wants you to work hard. He wants you to be creative. He wants you to understand power and gain control over the things that you can discipline yourself. Yes. Yes. Yes. And pleasure He created pleasures. But pleasures are never to be pursued because they're always flitting. If you're, if the idol in your life is go get pleasure, then you gonna move past the boundaries that God put on those pleasures. And you're gonna satisfy those sense of pleasures in ways that are wrong and that are sin. And they're gonna destroy you and hurt you.
Pleasure, it's wonderful. God made every nerve ending in your body. He's not a rookie on pleasure. But He made it a certain way. He made the beautiful horses to ride and He gave us the brilliance designed fast cars and 4 x 4's to get through that bush and to have the fun. So many things you can gain pleasure from today, okay? But it's always flitting. It's added like kind of icing on the cake for a purpose that is following Christ, but pleasures won't make it. The fifth God or idol that he put in his life was wisdom. And I touched on that a little bit already when it comes to work. He just tells if I know more. There's somebody here right now, if I know more, I'm gonna make more money. If I knew more, I can handle people. If I just know more.
So you're reading, you're learning, you're growing, everything you can get your hands on. I mean, name any author out there and I love doing this. You know how much I read, how much I study? But I'll never let this thing become the idol. That it's gonna see me through. It's gonna be my ticket somewhere. It's gonna solve my problem. It's gonna get the fulfilment that I need, because it never will. Wisdom, I'm not talking about God's wisdom. I'm talking about the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge is an inadequate guide. Wait 'til you hear the next one.
How about spirituality? People can pursue spirituality just these deeper thoughts. You know, we can listen to all these gurus that are out there today Christian and non-Christian alike. And as you go deeper and deeper into this and karma and all that this. You kind of go, "Oh, wow". And, you know, it will never be, in fact most spiritualism religion becomes religious. It leads to legalism and it's never gonna fulfill you. I'm not talking about a relationship with Jesus. I'm just talking about spirituality. Religion sucks. Religion is something that is people trying to please God, trying to get deeper. You know, let's get deeper. It's doesn't work. Those people become a little bit touch.
How about immortality? That was the seventh one. It's looking younger. We're gonna get the right vitamins. We're gonna get the right lotions. We're gonna get the right minerals. We're gonna eat the right food. We're gonna get nip. We're gonna get tuck. We're gonna get a put in. We're gonna take it out. We're gonna stay young and look good and live a long time. I got good news and I got bad news. The good news is, yes, we should look after ourselves. We should workout. We should eat good. We should get the minerals, the vitamins, the things that we need. But if it ever becomes your idol, and that's all you can think about, is looking good and fixing this and tucking that and going there and this lotion and then you got a new idol. It's no longer Jesus that drives you.
And so if anyone messes with your idol, they're messing with your God. And so if anyone tries to stop or... It's amazing. And Solomon says all of this that he tried, empty, nothing. Generation after generation has tried this. We're not the first. And when we're gone, generations after us are gonna pursue money and pleasure and wisdom and relationships. I get the right marriage. I'll be the happiest camper going. Just go, "Alarms in all of them". No, you need the abundant life.
You know, in Galatians 2:20, listen to this shocking verse. Now, pay attention to it. Paul says, "I am crucified". The word "crucified" by the way, means "dead, killed, stone dead". They hang you on a cross and they waited until you die. And if you didn't die, they break your legs and pierce you with the sword like they did with Jesus. And so He said, "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me and the life that I now live in this flesh body, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me". This is a love scripture to the saying that when you give your life to Jesus Christ and forgive me, come into my heart, all right? He didn't just improve you. He didn't just forgive a few sins and fix you up. You know, it's like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. He didn't spin a cocoon and then tape on some wings. There was a transformation. That he literally, that caterpillar literally becomes a butterfly.
Did you know that when you give your life to Jesus Christ and you become a born again, that you don't just, aren't just forgiven. Now, you are forgiven for sure because heaven, but you literally have a new nature because you are born. Jesus was very clear to a religious man when He said, you, you must be born again. And he's teacher of a logos. Jesus, I'm gonna enter back into my mother's womb. And you're kind of eww. What he was talking about was nature always come at birth. Dogs have puppies, not kitties. You can take your cat, tweak his ears like a Doberman Pinscher, cut off its tail, put a dog collar on, and feed Alpo. But you can't change the nature of that cat. It doesn't matter what you do. A cat is a cat is a cat is a cat is a cat. And so when Jesus touches you and forgives you and comes in and makes you and you become born again. There is, this is not a suggestion. This is not just a new way of thinking. This is an actual miracle that takes place. That this nature that you had before called a sin nature, called a fear nature.
Listen close to this. You could easily be contacted by the enemy, his thought life, his beliefs systems. Your spirit man was nature-wise sin, nature-wise fear. And because of that the enemy contacting you, controlling you, ruling you. Read the epistles, was as easy as pie. But when you became a nature of God's nature, you became born again. And Jesus Christ came on the inside of you. That old sin nature and his access to you, will shut right off. Now, what you've got to do is retrain your body because it's got memory banks about all the weaknesses. Get the Word on you. This new life. So Paul is saying, this is not just an improvement. I died. Jesus says this in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes through the Father except through Me".
Many Christians will give their life to Jesus because He's the way. They'll read the Word and try to put the truths of God's Word at work in their life. But I know so many Christians, who've been Christians for years and they have never recognized, He's not just the way. He's not just the truth. He's the life. He is your life. He's on the inside of you radiating joy. What you're trying to chase it down for? He's on the inside radiating peace and love and contentment. He's gonna empower you in your job, your career, your marriage, to raise kids. See, you can't be proud when you know every ability you've got to father your kids comes from God. It's His life in you that's coming out of you.
You can be proud of your marriage if you think, "Oh, I've got that man and I keep that man happy". The ability to do that comes from God. And when you look at these things, it's only Jesus. All right. Here's the verse we gotta cover. Matthew 16:24-26, this is a pivotal verse for today's message. "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If any man will come after me'. If you want the life of Jesus has, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me". Right away we think about those people like monks. Deny himself a wife, deny money, deny a bed, live in a cave. You know, on some island off to Mediterranean coast. And just, you know, walk up the stairs on your knees for penance and don't have a dream. That is not what He's talking about.
Let's go on because that explains it. For Jesus says, whosoever will save his life. All right, this is your life. If you're gonna try to save your life, build your life. You know, all these ways of control and relationship. It says you're gonna lose it. Whoever tries to lose his own life, save his own life, build his own life, you're gonna lose it. But if you lose your life for My sake, He says, you're gonna find it. And the life of Jesus is incredible, phenomenal. Jesus said in John 10:10, He said the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
I am come that you might have life and more abundantly. Which means superior in quality, enumerable in quantity. There is a life that only Jesus can live, and He lives it in you and He lives it through you. It's not He's here just assisting you a little bit. No. Paul said, I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live, yet it's not I, but it's Christ that lives in me and this life that I live now is by faith in Him. This Jesus is on the inside. It's your only hope to live the incredible life. The super empowered life, a relationship rich life, a joyful, peaceful life where His peace passes understanding, joy unspeakable and full of glory. This is the life of Jesus lived in you.