The Search For Meaning

The End of the Search

November 28, 2021 • Jonathan Pokluda • Ecclesiastes 12, Matthew 10:26–31, 1 Kings 11:1–6

What does it mean to fear God? Christians are commanded to do so all throughout the Scriptures. As we finish our series studying the book of Ecclesiastes, JP teaches us what it means to fear God. KEY TAKEAWAYS -We are all moving toward death. You are older now than when you read the sentence before this. -Fear and follow God before your body fails. -You can and should take care of your body, but you are going to die. -Form your theology before your decline. -Don’t buy into a false theology that God is not loving and kind because we are commanded to fear Him. -Read other books, but only in addition to the Bible, not as a supplement to the Bible. -Fear and follow God by holding firmly to His Word. -There are so many distractions in this world that the enemy uses to pull you off track. -Your quiet time is not a means to please God. It’s a method of survival to fight against an enemy that is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy you. -If you are not regularly reading the Bible you are backsliding. -Why would God make known to us His mysterious will when we are clearly disobeying and overlooking His revealed will? -Fearing God and following Him means living by faith. -Is your life marked by acts of faith? Things you did that if God didn’t show up you’d be considered foolish and a failure? -Every sin you’ve ever committed is against God. -If someone can come back from the dead after being tortured and crucified, you should fear them. If they were tortured and killed and came back from the dead for you, you should follow them. MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 12; Matthew 10:26-31; 1 Kings 11:1-6 -Sermon: Wisdom in Words, Work, and Worship -Resource: http://www.biblereadingplan.org

Wisdom in Words, Work, and Worship

November 21, 2021 • Nate Hilgenkamp • Ecclesiastes 10, Ecclesiastes 11, James 1:19, Colossians 3:23, 2 Thessalonians 3:6–8

While toddlers can be really funny with their actions and words, there is a big difference when adults do and say similar things. As we continue studying the book of Ecclesiastes, Nate Hilgenkamp teaches us what Scripture has to say about our words, work, and worship. KEY TAKEAWAYS -Here are some descriptions of the tongue in Scripture: snake, fire, sword, world of evil, and full of deadly poison. -Are you thoughtful with your words? -The wise are slow with their words. -Your tongue can eat you alive if you aren’t careful and thoughtful with your words. -Your words always matter, and they matter even more when it comes to your family. -You are never “safe” when it comes to speaking words that aren’t wise or gracious. -The wise work hard no matter what while the foolish work based on how they feel. -The wise are steadfast in their work. -Many of our problems with work are because we let our feelings guide our work. -Your laziness steals from yourself, and at times, it might even be stealing from your company. -Don’t work so hard to provide for your family at the expense of your family. -The world is not out of control, but it is out of your control. God is fully in control. -The more you try to control the more you will worry and fear. -The wise are surrendered in worship. -When you have a right view of God you can worship instead of worry. -It will not go well with you when your life is centered around yourself. -Do your words, work, and worship look like that of an adult or a child? -While children are often foolish, they have the one thing necessary to come to Jesus: need. -Don’t try to clean up your mess before you come to God. Come to Him as you are and let Him clean you up. -The only people who get into the Kingdom of God are the ones that know they shouldn’t. MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 10:11-14; James 1:19; Ecclesiastes 10:20; Ecclesiastes 11:1-6; Colossians 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-8; Ecclesiastes 10:15; Ecclesiastes 11:5, 3:11, 8:7, 8:17, 9:12, 10:14; Matthew 19:13-14 -Sermon: Live Like You’re Dying

Live Like You're Dying

November 14, 2021 • Jonathan Pokluda • Ecclesiastes 9, Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 3:19, Psalm 111:10, Ephesians 2:10

Do you have a bucket list? What do you want to do before you die? It could be anything at all. As we continue studying the book of Ecclesiastes, JP shows us that God has a bucket list prepared for each of us and that we should live like we're dying (and will live forever). KEY TAKEAWAYS -We do not know what tomorrow will bring. -Mortality causes us to be reflective. -Weddings are fun and celebratory, but everyone is distracted. At a funeral, the focus is crystal clear and you have everyone’s attention. -Remember death awaits us all. -In America in 2021, we are bad at death. We’ve outsourced it in a way that is completely foreign to other cultures and all of history. -You do not know how much time you have left. -It is really hard and sad when death strikes. We mourn because we were made to live forever. Death was not present in Eden before the Fall and it’s not in heaven either. -Find joy in living. -God does not want to rip you off. He is a good God, and He loves giving good things. -What do you enjoy doing? Can you do it to the glory of God? (doing something in faith and without sin). Go do more of those things! -Learn to enjoy serving others. -Do you use your words flippantly or thoughtfully? -You can be wise and live prudently, but even then, you don’t know what life has in store. Before Jesus returns, pain and death will come to the wisest people at times. -Live with wisdom. -Live a life not for God’s approval but from God’s approval. -We don’t have to experience all this earth has to offer before we die because we will have forever and ever and ever to experience this earth in its glorified form. -Don’t wait to live like you are dying. Surround yourself with Scripture, share the gospel with every person you meet, and give as generously as you can. MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 9; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:23; 1 Corinthians 3:19; Psalm 111:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19 -Sermon: Submitting to Authority

Submitting to Authority

November 7, 2021 • Nate Hilgenkamp • Ecclesiastes 8, Romans 13:1–2, 1 Peter 2:13–14, John 6:60–66, Luke 5:3–5

Have you ever been in a position where an authority figure was telling or asking you to do something you didn’t want to do? As believers in Jesus, what should our response to authority be? As we continue studying the book of Ecclesiastes, Nate Hilgenkamp teaches us what our posture and response to authority should look like. KEY TAKEAWAYS -We are called to submit to those in authority. -As Christians, we should begin our approach to authority with humility, not hostility. -Christians should be a joy to lead. Are you a joy to lead? -If you don’t respect those in authority over you, that says more about your heart than it does their leadership. -If you want to submit to God’s Word, you have to start by submitting to those in authority. -Human authority will be unfair. -Who do you fear more? Politicians, your boss, or the King of Kings? -Believers should gladly follow authority unless the authority is asking you to sin or go against God’s Word. -When you resist authority that is asking you to go against God, you need to do so while walking by the Spirit and modeling the fruit of the Spirit. -The bar to resisting authority that is outlined in Scripture is a lot higher than we typically wish it were. -God’s authority will seem unfair. -God allowed Jesus to experience the most unfair thing in the history of the world in order to save you. -Jesus said and did things that didn’t make sense to those around Him. -As followers of Jesus, if He says so, we must trust and follow. -Are you a joy to be led by Jesus? MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 8; Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-14; John 6:60-66; Luke 5:3-5 -Sermon: A Wise Perspective in Problems

A Wise Perspective in Problems

October 31, 2021 • Jonathan Pokluda • Ecclesiastes 7, James 1:19, Philippians 3:13–14, 2 Samuel 12:20–23, Proverbs 12:1

When was the last time you had a bad day? What made it a bad day? As we continue our series studying the book of Ecclesiastes, JP teaches through chapter 7, showing us a biblical response to the pain and problems of life. KEY TAKEAWAYS -Do you view life’s problems as something to be avoided or something to embrace and learn from? -Younger people are desperate to learn from older people. -Don’t forget your mortality. You are here for just a moment and then your life will be over. -You get to choose who you learn from. Who are the people you are going to for advice? Just because someone is popular or famous doesn’t mean they are wise. -Learn from pain before you leave it. -When something is uncomfortable God often wants to teach you something. -21st century western culture moves too fast to learn from pain and discomfort. -Sometimes pain will be your best instructor in life. -It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Don’t quit after the honeymoon period of something new and fun. -As a follower of Jesus Christ, your hope will always be in front of you. -Money can’t prolong your life but wisdom can. -Be patient in problems before you’re provoked. -There will be moments in your life when you are provoked and you need to prepare for those moments now. Pray that you’d take a deep breath, ask for wisdom, and respond accordingly. -If you need wisdom, go to your GPS: Gather your Group, Persist in Prayer, Search the Scriptures. -You. Are. Not. God. God is God. Let God be God. -There are good days and there are bad days, but they are all God’s days. He is sovereign over all of them. -Surrender to God’s sovereignty in bad situations. -Sometimes it’s good to be small. -Life is a roller coaster. There will be ups and downs. Do your best to enjoy the ride, and don’t question God or rebel or be a fool during the downs. -Without Jesus, everything you do is meaningless. Literally everything. -Sometimes things under the sun are really hard…don’t be quick to avoid or run from them. Let them teach you to turn to God and become more intimate with Him. MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 7; Proverbs 12:1; James 1:19; Philippians 3:13-4; 2 Samuel 12:20-23 -Sermon: The Curse and Blessing of Money -Sermon: GPS

The Curse and Blessing of Wealth

October 24, 2021 • Jonathan Pokluda • Ecclesiastes 5, 1 Timothy 6:9–10, Philippians 4:11–13, Matthew 6:19–21

Have you ever wanted to buy something that you didn’t have enough money for? Or, have you ever been able to buy something that you really wanted? What did you feel like in both of those situations? As we continue our series studying the book of Ecclesiastes, JP teaches through chapter 5, showing us a biblical perspective on wealth and what it can do to us. KEY TAKEAWAYS -Jesus had more to say about money than any other topic other than the kingdom of God. -Why is it that it’s easier to give away $1 when you have $10 than $1,000,000 when you have $10,000,000? -How much money is enough for you? What number do you need to make each year? -Wealth can be a curse. -Simply put, wealth can complicate your life. -Wealth can be a curse to your satisfaction. When you feed greed, it grows. -If you are a Christian, being rich only comes with a high amount of responsibility. -Wealth can curse your relationships. Are people your friend because of your money? -Wealth can curse your sleep. You can have all the money in the world and not be able to turn off your mind and sleep. -Wealth can be a curse to death. Many families have been torn apart because of wealth inherited after a death. -Wealth can be a curse to your sanity. You can have a lot of money and lose your mind or your memory. -Desiring to be wealthy and thinking it will make us better and happier is a lesson that most all of us can’t seem to learn. -Wealth in an of itself is not bad. Every good and perfect gift is from God above. -While Scripture doesn’t teach that poverty equates with godliness, most of us blow past the warning signs it teaches about wealth and prosperity. -God can make wealth a blessing. -Is Jesus enough for you? When you are hurt, hungry, alone, persecuted, or poor, is Jesus enough? -The rich are better than the poor because while the poor think money will make them happier the rich know better. Those who are content are infinitely better than both. -There are four categories of wealth in the Scripture: rich, poor, righteous rich, & righteous poor. Which are you? -God has solicited and trusted you to play the role of His financial advisor. How are you doing at stewarding what He has given you? -When deciding how to steward money, pray and consult your life group. If those feel like constraints and you are a Christian, they are the path to freedom. Constraints equal freedom for Christians. -Don’t waste your wealth under the sun. -You can’t take your money with you, but you can send it ahead and have it to your credit when you get there. -Invest your wealth beyond the sun. -The essence of having something in storage means you don’t need it. -Read Matthew 6:19-21 in the next week and pray about what it looks like for you to obediently apply it in your life. -Where do you need to change your perspective on wealth to align it with God’s perspective? -Christians—based on God’s love and generosity—should be the most generous people on the planet. MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 5; 1 Timothy 6:9-10; Philippians 4:11-13; Matthew 6:19-21 -Sermon: Better Together and Awful Alone.

Better Together and Awful Alone

October 17, 2021 • Jonathan Pokluda • Ecclesiastes 4, Genesis 2:18, Proverbs 6:10, Proverbs 24:30–34

Have you ever been in a situation where you were in a bad spot and you were alone? How would it have been different if someone else was with you? As we continue our series studying the book of Ecclesiastes, JP teaches us the importance of doing life with other people and not being alone. KEY TAKEAWAYS -You were not designed or created to be alone. -Life is better together and awful alone. -It’s better to be alone in a cemetery than alone and alive. -What keeps you isolated? -Envy and comparing yourself to others will keep you isolated. -When we assess how we are doing in life, we are almost always comparing and measuring ourselves against someone else. Your contentment is based on being better or having more than them. -The essence of laziness is selfishness. -The most self-absorbed person is the farthest from God. -The person who is most isolated is closest to Satan…they are the easiest to pick off and defeat. -Greed will keep you in isolation. -Many people have provided for their family at the expense of their family. -Ty Cobb is arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest baseball player of all time. On his deathbed, he said he wished he had more friends. Only 3 friends showed up to his funeral. Ty Cobb won at baseball but he lost at life. -The truth is, if you want something bad enough and have enough drive you can probably get it, but make no mistake…it will cost you. Make sure you are pursuing the right things. -What are the benefits of friends? -You can do more and be more productive with others. -The law of synergy shows that when two are together they can accomplish a multiplier of what each could accomplish alone. -To receive (or give) care in life implies that someone else is there. -Idiosyncrasies grow in isolation. -Comfort and strength are both benefits of friendship. -The vast majority of pastoral care emails and messages are from people who are not in community or doing life with close friends and family. They are usually alone. -If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together. -Some people grow so smart they are not teachable. Don’t be one of them! -The loneliest place is leadership. -Leaders and politicians are miserable saviors. -The loneliest place in all of history was Jesus being crucified on the cross. And yet, He did it for us. God used that moment to save us. -If you have an area of your life that you don’t want to let others into, you are inviting the devil into that area of your life. -God paid a great price to defeat Satan and save you, but while you are on earth you are in a strange middle ground and not fully home yet. If you live isolated, you will get taken out. MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 4; Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 6:10, 24:30-34 -Sermon: God Working in Time

God Working in Time

October 10, 2021 • Jonathan Pokluda • Ecclesiastes 3, Philippians 4:11–13, John 10:10, Romans 8:28, 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Have you ever run out of time when you were in the middle of something that wasn’t complete? Maybe a house project, something for work, or an important relationship? As we continue our series on the book of Ecclesiastes, JP teaches through Ecclesiastes 3, showing us how God works in time. KEY TAKEAWAYS -If what you have is not good, God is not done. -Every human being experiences both the ups and downs of life. There are no exceptions. -We experience life in time and chronological order. God sits above and outside of time and sees everything. -There is a time for everything. -It’s bad theology to believe you won’t experience sickness, pain, hurt, poverty, or other bad things on this side of death. -God has put eternity in our hearts and nothing but Him will satisfy our cravings and desires. -God is in charge of everything. -The fear of the Lord means to fully stand in both fear and awe of the Lord at the same time. -We can know and understand a lot about God through His creation and His Word, but make no mistake, He won’t fully fit into our finite understanding. -When things aren’t going how you hoped or planned, ask yourself, “What is God up to right now? What does He want me to do or learn?” -Everyone wants God to take care of evil, but they want Him to start just past themselves. -God makes everything beautiful in its time. -God took the worst day in human history and turned it into the best day in human history. -Asking God, “How can you do this to me?” is the wrong question. The right question is, “How could you do that to You (Jesus) for me?” -God makes everything beautiful in its time. -For those who have trusted in Christ, one day we will see clearly and understand how the hardest thing we’ve ever been through was worth it. MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 3; John 10:10; Romans 8:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:11-13 -Sermon: The Search Begins -Sermon: The Search Continues

The Search Continues

October 3, 2021 • Jonathan Pokluda • Ecclesiastes 2, 1 Corinthians 10:31

Where are you prone to look for meaning in life? Pleasure, projects, possessions, power, profession…what is it for you? As we continue studying the book of Ecclesiastes, JP teaches through chapter 2, showing us the only place to find true meaning. KEY TAKEAWAYS -The dumbest thing you could do is to live out the experiment Solomon did thinking you will get a different result. -Our pleasure apart from God is meaningless. -The only thing believers use alcohol for is fellowship. -Our projects apart from God are meaningless. -Your home, yard, landscaping, renovation, or any other project is futile apart from the Lord. -Solomon made over $2,700,000 per day. He threw a party where he served 22,000 cows and 150,000 sheep. He owned 12,000 horses and had 30,000 employees. You will not have a glimpse of his possessions. -Our possessions apart from God are meaningless. -You could have something that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet don’t have. Today. -We all really want to be comfortable. To have enough where we can get to a place where we don’t have to worry. -Liberalism and conservatism will both leave you empty. Neither are the answer to life’s problems or meaning. -Our power apart from God is meaningless. -A wise man learns from their mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others. -The rich are infinitely better off than the poor because while the poor think money will bring them happiness the rich know better. -People who are wealthy enough to actually do what they want to do when they want to do it are on a fast track to sickness. -Our profession apart from God is meaningless. -There is no job in the world that will provide enough meaning to your life. -When you look at what you do with an eternal perspective everything can have meaning. -The essence of enjoying something is found in using it. When you take things and put them in light of eternity, they can be enjoyed to the glory of God. MENTIONED OR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES -Suggested Scripture Study: Ecclesiastes 2; 1 Corinthians 10:31 -Sermon: The Search Begins

The Search Begins

September 26, 2021 • Jonathan Pokluda • Ecclesiastes 1