April 28, 2007 – The Scrooge Report Post
GREG LAURIE – A NEW BEGINNING
Greg Laurie pastors Harvest Christian Fellowship (one of America’s largest churches) in Riverside, California. Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.
I want to tell you the story of a man who tried it all. If anyone was ever qualified to say, “been-there-done-that-bought-the-T-shirt,” it was this man.
The Bible says that as a young man he loved the Lord, yet he became the hedonist extraordinaire, a playboy who made Hugh Hefner look like a lightweight in comparison. He was highly educated, yet he went on unbelievable drinking binges. He was an architectural genius, masterminding the building of incredible structures, and chased after women like there was no tomorrow. What a study in contrasts! And he was worth billions.
No, I am not describing some contemporary billionaire like Donald Trump or Rupert Murdoch. Nor am I describing some Hollywood actor like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks. This man lived thousands of years ago. Yet the lessons and experiences of his life are as current as tomorrow’s newspaper. It was he who coined the phrase “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
His name was Solomon, a prince of great promise who threw it all away.
The son of David and Bathsheba, Solomon became the king of Israel after his father’s death. No one, not even David, had such incredible potential to be a great king. He was given wisdom on a scale that had never been known up to that point and had virtually unlimited power to do good. He had a godly heritage from his father, David, who, in spite of his serious lapse, recovered and became indeed a man after God’s own heart.
Solomon began his reign beautifully. But the joy and beauty began to fade all too soon as this young king with so much potential turned away from the Lord who had so richly blessed him.
It wasn’t enough for Solomon to hear about right and wrong from others. Like many young people, he wanted to know for himself. It was a tragic decision. By the time he came to the end of himself, he had thrown away a life with unbelievable potential.
Here’s how he began his memoirs in the book of Ecclesiastes:
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3)
Solomon liked the word “vanity”; he used it 38 times in Ecclesiastes as he wrote about life under the sun. The word vanity used here is not speaking of personal vanity, as in spending too much time in front of their mirror every day. The word in the original Hebrew means emptiness, futility, meaninglessness, a wisp of a vapor, a hollow, empty ring, nothingness and a bubble that bursts. Solomon was saying that nothing on this earth would satisfy us completely. No thing, no pleasure, no relationship, no accomplishment will bring enduring value in life.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon was looking back on a life lived without God. He was reflecting on man’s attempt to meet the deepest needs of human life while simply leaving God out of the equation.
It didn’t start that way. Initially, Solomon followed his father David’s advice. But as time passed, the young king forgot this commitment, allowing his heart to become at first divided, and then hardened. He began to love both the Lord and the world. According to Scripture, however, that will never wash.
The Bible reminds us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whoever will be this world’s friend will be God’s enemy. And in this rebellion against God, much like the prodigal son, Solomon broke away from his roots, his foundation, and decided to take a crash course in sin.
He tried sex, drinking, partying, unlimited materialism, the finest education, entertainment, collecting art, you name it, and Solomon tried it. He actually did what most people only dream of. But in the end, it all turned into a nightmare of emptiness and vanity.
The irony of all of this is that he knew better! Solomon had met with God early in his reign and had been blessed in a special way – God promised him unheard-of wisdom as well as riches and honor (1 Kings 3:5-13). In fact, Solomon was offered a “blank check” from God. What would you have done if the Lord came to you and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
Jesus explained to us what prayer is really all about: bringing our will into alignment with His. He said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get everything you want – but it does mean you’ll get everything you need.
As the great British Preacher C.H. Spurgeon once said, “When you have a great desire for heavenly things, when your desires are such as God approves of, when you will what God wills, then you will have what you like.”
Solomon forgot this precious truth by allowing his heart to become divided and then hardened, but Jesus wants you to know a better way – a life free of vanity and full of lasting meaning and joy. He said, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
Lasting joy isn’t found bending life my way, but yielding my life to God’s way!
Greg Laurie’s ministry information and more can be found at Harvest Online.