But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Welcome to this episode of simple Christians, I’m Dr. Ty, and I’m very glad you’re here, what I just read was from Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.
That was when King Solomon was going after happiness.
So we could have a life full of joy, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to be happy all the time.
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t happy when my parents died, it was definitely not a happy time of my life. But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t still have joy in God and his creation and what he’s done for me.
I’ve been getting a lot of questions about joy lately, such as: “How can I be filled with joy when a loved one dies? Or when I lose my job like so many people have lately?” “How do I have a joyful life when someone does something absolutely terrible to another person?” “How do I feel happy when I’m poor?” And those are all great questions. Happiness is something that comes and goes. Joy is more of a way of living. It’s not that there’s no suffering. It’s not that there’s no anger, but it’s being in the presence of God.
And I think Romans 15:13 says it best: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.“
I’m not going to say that having joy is easy. Some people may take their lifetime to feel joy all the time. I can tell you that, right now, I don’t feel joy all the time; I’m working toward that. That’s one of the biggest things I’m working toward actually.
One of my big ones now is why do I sometimes not feel joyful or happy when I’m witnessing to somebody else? I feel like I’m failing when I witness to other people sometimes. I feel almost like what’s going on right now; I’m stumbling over my words, trying to figure out the right thing to say.
And it’s not about whether or not we do a great job. It’s about us, giving up ourselves so that God can work through us. Like in Philippians 3:1-3 whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters rejoice in the Lord.
So, we need to look at where our joy comes from. Does our joy come from the adoration of other people? Does our joy come from giving people bad news? I know people that are like that, I know people that get joy in in gossip and drama.
In fact, somebody that is in my life, they have a very difficult time, not filling their life with gossip and drama and not being around other people that are full of gossip and drama. And, unfortunately, I’ve had to walk away from that person a bit, because they’re always negative; there’s always something bad happening in their life and they’re a drama magnet is what they are.
For some reason, they get some perverse amount of joy from that. And I’m not going to say it’s on purpose, I’m going to say that, for lack of anything else, they don’t know any better. And they don’t want to know any better. This person knows God, this person has been baptize, but they haven’t taken that next step; They haven’t tried to figure out a joy-filled life through the Lord.
And I think that’s the big thing. We sometimes think: “I’m a Christian, therefore, everything’s fine and I can do what I want, and everything will be okay.”
But if we don’t come to Jesus, and take the living water that he offers, every day, every hour, maybe even every minute, then we can’t really have a life that’s full of joy. our life is going to be full of the vanity that King Solomon talked about.
And King Solomon, in his time, was the richest man in the world. Even the queen of Egypt came to him and asked his advice and looked for his wisdom. There was nobody considered to be more wise or richer than Solomon. And in Ecclesiastes, he admits that it was all vanity. It was all to do with material possessions. It was all to do with things to make him feel good, not to expand the kingdom of God.
So, you’ve got to watch out. Are you going after things that are making you happy? I love technological toys. I’m a techie nerd. And yeah, buying new techie toys makes me happy. But they don’t fill me with joy.
Psalms 4:7. This one got me about the guy who asked me how could I be filled with joy when I’m poor?
Especially because he was watching a video at the time, which means he both had a way of watching the video (because he had a computer or a cell phone, he had something to watch it with, and he had electricity). Which means he was already richer than half of the world, maybe even more. 50 to 70% of the world has no electricity.
Do you have shoes? I know a dentist who every year buys hundreds and hundreds of pairs of sandals and sends them over to Africa and goes and gives them out to children who have never seen a pair of shoes in their life. The pair of sandals they get is the one pair of sandals that they keep for years. They don’t have tape, they use vines and stuff to keep them together as they fall apart.
We are so rich in first-world countries: America, UK, Canada, places like that. We don’t think about everything that God has given us. You really want to have a life of joy? Start giving things away; start giving things to the poor, sell stuff and teach people in another country how they can grow crops, how they can raise herds of sheep, or cattle or whatever it might be.
Help somebody that in no way can pay you back. I don’t remember where I heard that from. But that was one thing that I heard a long time ago that I try to do every once in a while: Do something for somebody that can in no way pay you back.
And I tell you, that gives me a great deal of joy. I don’t tell them who I am. I’ll do it anonymously if I can. And that way, vanity doesn’t come through as much. I think there’s still some vanity to it, because I know that I did it.
But I like to think that they know that it’s not necessarily coming from me but coming from God. And to me, a part of a joy-filled life is how to shine God through everything that you do. But you have to remember that God has to be the foundation. We have to trust in God for everything, especially when we go through trials.
Now, prison back then wasn’t quite like prison today. They didn’t have toilets, or electricity. They couldn’t watch TV, there was no TV of course. They had a bucket if they needed to go to the bathroom, if they were lucky. Some prisons, you just went to the bathroom on the floor. And the prison was made to where you would eventually have to lay in your own filth. They did that on purpose.
You might get fed once a day, many prisons didn’t get fed you at all: Your friends would have to come and feed you while you were in prison. And if they didn’t feed you, well, then you died. And your jailers didn’t care.
So this was was real prison. I kind of doubt there any prisons like it today. There might be, but I don’t know. So he was talking about rejoicing always, while he was in a prison like this. That’s because his foundation was God.
We fix our eyes on Jesus, we fix our eyes on God, and we have a reason to be joyful in all situations.
Hebrews 12:2,3, fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endorse such opposition for from centers, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
And I’m going to end with James 1:2. Consider it all joy, my brothers when you encounter various trials,knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
I found out that I had to have quintuple coronary bypass surgery. And this was three months after COVID-19 started when people were deathly afraid of going into the hospital. And it could have been a time of panic, but I’m learning to have joy in God even in times like that. And actually, God just lined it up, it was amazing. Because there was nobody at the hospitals.
Every time I went in, the doctors were waiting for me. I had many appointments where they had to do tests and do this other stuff and there was so much that they had to do. But one time I had an appointment at two o’clock in the afternoon, the lady was at the front door, asking people if they were me. When I came in, she was I’m so glad that I was here. She said that I was the first person she had seen that day. And she’s in this one little tiny room, she couldn’t even stay in her in her little office because there was nobody else there. She didn’t want to sit there alone all day long.
And it was it was such a great joy just to be with those people, especially during COVID. You know, the first responders when they do have to respond, they’ve got to be available.
Nobody wanted to go to a hospital where there’s all these COVID patients. And despite having quintuple coronary bypass surgery, I actually had a great time at the hospital. It was it was definitely filled with joy.
And I was able to talk with the nurses and some of the staff about my faith. And, see, this is this is me: I felt like I goofed it up every once in a while. But then God has to remind me, hey, it’s not about you. It’s about what you say about God. So maybe I felt like I goofed it up. But that doesn’t mean they took it that way. So even in hindsight, I have to remind myself, that it is the joy of being able to show other people how God affects my life.
Thank you so much for reading this volume of simple Christians. Click here to contact me, I would be happy to hear from you. Take care!