All right, I want to put a couple of pictures up there, and this first one is a woman named Mavis Wanczyk and last August she won the Powerball jackpot, as you can see, 750 million dollars. How many of you guys would like just a little bit of that luck to rub off on you? You’re thinking, yes. Now, I want to show you one more picture in just a second, and this woman didn’t win nearly as much money, but her luck seems even more remarkable, and if we could get that next picture up. This is Virginia Fike, she won the Virginia Lottery, the Virginia Lottery is 1 million dollars, but you’ll notice she has a check for two million dollars and that’s because she won the Virginia lottery twice in one day. She got a ticket, won the lottery, they reset it, she bought another ticket the same day and won it again. Now how many of guys are thinking, “Where am I when that luck is being passed out? I want a little bit of that luck!”
Now they’re lucky but they’re not even close to being the luckiest person that ever lived. And today, you are going to meet the luckiest person that ever lived and this sermon is entitled “Lessons From The Luckiest Person That Ever Lived. The luckiest person that ever lived was born into a family of great wealth and great power. He was born with gifts of great intelligence and incredible talents. He had no real problems, he had no serious enemies and no real obstacles ever in his life until the very end. Everything he attempted, everything he attempt succeeded. Women wanted to be with him. Men wanted to be him. In fact that Dos Equis guy had a picture of him on the wall. People traveled from all over the world just to meet him. What can I say? He was the luckiest person that ever lived. Now why was this one person allowed to have everything anyone of us could ever want? Why? Why did he get it? Why did God allow him? Let me ask you, would you like that same treatment? Would you like to have his luck? Now, while you’re pondering that question, I want to read to you Proverbs 15, verse 16:
Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and turmoil without it.
Now, I want you to imagine I’m standing in front of a giant scale. And on the left, we’re going to put great wealth. And we’re going to put an incredible beach house, I mean MTV Cribs called you all the time wanting to film it. And you have an incredible fleet of exotic automobiles in your garage. You have a private jet. You have vacation homes all over the world. You’re famous. You’re on magazine covers. And then just add one more thing to that left scale and that’s the turmoil that so often comes with all that. Now, how about the right side of the scale? Let’s say it’s a two-bedroom apartment in East County, a used Ford Focus and a Thousand Trails membership. How many of you guys are getting the picture? Now, let’s just add one more thing. It’s the fear of the Lord. And the Bible says that what’s on the right side is more. So how is that possible? How could the fear of the Lord be so much that it outweighs all the rest of that?
Well, let’s look at what is the fear of the Lord, quickly. It means to revere, to respect and to esteem God above any other person or thing. Another definition, the fear of the Lord means that you put pleasing God at the very center of every decision you make and every question you address, not pleasing yourself but pleasing God. One more quick one, the fear of the Lord means that you are convinced of God’s faithfulness, that He always rewards your faithfulness and obedience and that because He is the creator of the world, that every time you sin or break His laws there will be consequences. That’s the fear of the Lord. The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life…
There it is. Real life, the life that we all really want flows out of fearing the Lord. It says that God reveres those who reverence Him.
The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honor and life.
In other words, the fear of the Lord is better than luck, it’s better than talent, it’s better than having intelligence because of what it brings. Now, a lot of you mentally can agree with that but it’s hard for us to believe that the fear of Lord is better than all those things but God says that it is. Now how can God prove and demonstrate to us that in fact the fear of the Lord is better than luck, than intelligence, than talent, than wealth. That’s where the luckiest man that ever lived comes in. Because God put the luckiest man there so that we can learn from him. In other words, he is the guinea pig that was allowed to go out with every advantage, without any problems, a trouble-free life, so that he, with every advantage and wealth, could go out and experiment and test the limits of everything that we think is going to make us happy. He had no limitations and no problems as he pursued those things and answered for us the question, “Can those things we want, money and fame etc., can they really bring fulfillment and happiness?”
Well, if you haven’t guessed it yet, his name was Solomon. He was David’s son, King David’s son. He was the 3rd king of Israel. And God gave him great wealth and great fame and great intellect and everything else you can imagine, and a problem-free life to explore the limits of all those things. The Bible tells us he was incredibly wealthy. In 1 Kings 10:14, it says that in just one year alone, 25 tons of gold came to him such so that silver wasn’t even considered valuable.
Silver was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon (because there was so much gold). 27The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem.
How many of you guys would like some of those stones? So, tremendous wealth. Then the Bible tells us that he built huge fleets of ships that traveled the world and traded with all things and brought him the most exotic things. It says they brought him peacocks. It said they brought him gorillas. They brought him elephants. He had everything in the entire world a person could ever want. He was the most powerful man of his age. He had the greatest empire. He had such a large standing army and so many chariots and cavalry that his entire reign he had peace until the very end because no one dared attack him. He had a greater intellect and wisdom and learning than anybody else alive.
Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and the wisdom of all of Egypt.
So he amassed great scientific knowledge, in astronomy, in agriculture and animal husbandry and other things. He wrote books on them. He also was prolific in the arts. He wrote 1,000 songs and 3,000 proverbs. He was a man of great achievement. He was an entrepreneur. He was a captain of industry, a captain of commerce. He was the most famous man on earth.
King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart.
And by his own testimony, he had no problems, he had no serious enemies or opposition.
But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune.
He had a problem-free life. Now the question is how did he pull this all off? How was he able to attain to everything everybody wants all at once with no problems? And the answer was he didn’t do it, God did it, God made it happen. You see, shortly after King Solomon assumed the throne upon his father’s death, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and He said, “Solomon, what would you like me to do for you?” How would you like God to ask you that? What would you say? What would your answer be? So God asks Solomon that in a dream. And Solomon was a good and a righteous man who sought to do good and so his answer was this, “God, the one thing I want you to do is give me a good and a wise heart so that I could be a good leader of Your people.” And God said, “I’m going to give you that plus so much more.” Right here in 1 Kings 3:12-13 God answers Solomon:
Behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all of your days.
You see, Solomon was a good man and he had a brilliant mind and he desired to do good. In other words, you could say that Solomon was the best of the best among us, that made him a perfect test case, a perfect guinea pig for us to learn. In other words, he was the perfect person to put this theory to the test of whether or not all these things could make us happy. But guess what? Even though he had everything you could ever want and every advantage, he didn’t end up being happy. He didn’t end up having a successful life in the end. It didn’t make him a better person. I want to just share with you quickly three ways that Solomon’s luck, if you will, failed him. Three things that being the luckiest man in the world could not bring apart about in his life.
Three Ways Solomon’s “Luck” Didn’t Help Him:
1) Solomon could not control his heart, his appetites or his desires.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.
You see God had set definite boundaries for the kings of Israel in Deuteronomy 17 and among those boundaries He had said, “Israelite kings shall not be like the pagans. You shall not multiply and have lots of wives, and also, you shall not marry outside the covenant community, you shall not marry outside of Israel because they’re all idol worshippers.” Those boundaries, like all the boundaries that God gives us in His Word, are to protect us. They were to protect Solomon. But Solomon could not stay within those boundaries because he could not control his appetite and he had a thousand women and they were from all the different countries. You see, unfortunately, he had all the power and all the money to indulge every desire that came to him and so desire and lust snared him. You see, being lucky doesn’t ensure that you’re going to make good choices. Being lucky doesn’t give you self-control. Being lucky doesn’t make you a better person. Even his great intellect and learning could not prevent this from happening and so pretty soon he began to drift away from God and drift towards destruction.
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites.
You see luck won’t guard you from addiction. Luck won’t guard you from destruction. Even a great intellect, even a lot of money will not keep you from going down destructive paths. But there’s one thing that will guard you and keep you and prolong your life. Guess what it is.
The fear of the Lord prolongs life.
You see, the fear of the Lord will keep you from taking those first wayward steps. Those first steps into destruction, away from the Lord’s will. The first time someone offers you a hit of marijuana. The first time you’re considering setting up an appointment behind your spouse’s back with a co-worker. The fear of the Lord will keep you from doing that because the fear of the Lord is the conviction that while God blesses faithfulness and obedience, the world is set up in such a way by our Creator, that our sin always finds us out and there’s always a cost to pay. So, when you find yourself in a place of great temptation, where the opportunity to do wrong is right in front of you and you think no one can see, the fear of the Lord will strengthen you, it will guard you, it will protect you and it will prolong life in you. Here’s the second thing. With all his luck and all his blessings, here’s something that luck could not bring about.
2) He couldn’t find lasting happiness, peace or meaning in life.
You see, Solomon wrote the Proverbs near the beginning of his life. And he wrote another book as well, Ecclesiastes, and he wrote that towards the end of his life. And it’s that book which is autobiographical. And so here’s his testimony in the book of Ecclesiastes after living a life of being the luckiest man that ever lived with every advantage. Here’s what he wrote.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” (or vanity of vanities, or empty) says the Teacher (he would refer to himself as the teacher in that book). “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.
“All things are worrisome,” he said, “all things are empty, all things in the end are unfulfilling and tiresome and boring.” In other words, man can’t explain life by ourselves. We can’t answer the questions of life. We can’t discover the meaning of life. And then he says, “The eye is never satisfied, the ear is never satisfied.” In other words, the desires of the human self and body are never fully satisfied in this life. No matter what they get, they want more, they need more, they need fresh. Solomon had everything you could ever have and yet he ended up unsatisfied and empty. And he sought for fulfillment through every channel you can think of. First of all, he sought to be fulfilled and happy through achievement.
4I enlarged my works: I built houses (he built incredible palaces for himself all over Israel) for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; (He also built great cities. He built the Great Temple of Solomon, named after him, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world but none of it satisfied him. So, he tried to find happiness through pleasure) 10All that my eyes desired (he had the money and the opportunity and freedom to do anything) I did not refuse them I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure. (And so he pursued every pleasure, we already saw: women, but food, music, sports, art, he pursued them all but they weren’t satisfying. He tried escapism. It says in verse 3…) 3I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely.
And so he used intoxicants to try and change his mood and change his perspective and see if getting into a different mood or a different mental state would help him, but it didn’t, so finally he turned to philosophy to find meaning and purpose.
When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night) and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun.
Notice he contemplated everything that God was doing and everything that God had done, and he tried to figure it out. He had the greatest mind of his time and he determined that we can’t figure out the meaning of life apart from God. He was frustrated. He couldn’t discover truth or meaning. And he wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:11 something very important.
He (God) has made everything appropriate in its time, (in other words, God determines when things happen, and they happen at the right time.) He has also set eternity in their heart (our hearts, everyone’s hearts) yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.
In other words, God has set eternity in everybody’s heart, so all of us know there’s more to life than what we can see, what we can touch, what we can feel, what exists in our lifetime and that’s why religion is all around the world and always has been. And yet He’s put that question and that sense in our heart without giving us the answer in our heart. He’s made life a giant riddle that we cannot solve without Him. And so as long as a person worships their reason and their intellect, they can never find truth or meaning. But as soon as we come in and worship and bow our knee before God, then we see as He sees. Then we have His understanding. Then we understand the purpose of life. We understand how life is fulfilling and why it’s fulfilling. But apart from that we can’t. Someone said once, the philosophers of the world are like someone coming and drawing a giant circle and saying, “That’s the meaning of life.” But the next generation, someone else comes and crosses out that circle and points out all the falsehoods and faults and draws another circle. Until the next generation comes and then that circle, that philosophy, is abandoned. And a new one. It’s a history of circles and each one is being rejected by the next generation until we come to a place of despair like we are today. But when we bow our knee and come to God’s presence, we understand. In Proverbs 9:10, Solomon, as a young man had written, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” He wrote in another place in Proverbs, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of true knowledge.” Now, there’s a third way in which his luck failed him. That last one was he couldn’t find meaning or purpose or truth. The third thing and it’s a tragic one is…
3) He failed to prepare his children to succeed and live the blessed life.
When Solomon died, he had to leave the kingdom into the hands of his son Rehoboam who was a foolish and an arrogant and a prideful man. And so within less than a year, he lost 10 of the 12 tribes that had made up his father’s Kingdom. And those twelve tribes banded together and formed the northern kingdom and Rehoboam warred with them his entire life. Solomon stored up wealth but somewhere along the line, he lost sight of the one thing he could have passed on to his son and his children which would have made them successful and happy and that is of course the fear of the Lord, the reverence of God. Solomon, towards the end of his life, looked at his children and he seriously doubted whether he would be putting his kingdom into the hands of capable people.
Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, (he spent his whole life building) for I must leave it to the man who will come after me (and that would be his son, Rehoboam). And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.
Imagine spending your whole life building a legacy, building a company, and then to realize that your children would certainly squander it because you forgot to give them something more important, the fear of the Lord. You know it’s the same today. Many parents run themselves ragged, I watch them, trying to get their child involved in every program and every extracurricular thing, thinking they’re preparing them for the future but all the time neglecting the most important thing. They don’t bring them to church on Sunday because they’ve got them in activities on Sunday. But the most important thing is that we teach our children to put God above every other thing in life including our own desires. I want to tell you that the luckiest man that ever lived didn’t feel so lucky at the end of his life. Here is his testimony:
So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.
It was like he said, “…striving or chasing after the wind, trying to grasp the wind, everything was empty and slipped through my fingers.” Seemed he had everything but he lost sight of the one thing that really mattered. The fear of God is more important than luck, wealth, intelligence, talent. But there’s reason to believe that at the very end of his life, Solomon began to realize his error and come back. Let’s read the second to the last verse of that book.
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.
He said, “At the end of my life, the conclusion to all the experiments that I did, is the most important thing is to fear God and follow His ways. And this applies to every person, young and old, young people, and rich and poor.” You see, this is the point, it’s far better to develop the fear of God in your life, a reverence for God, than it is to wait and hope that you’re going to be lucky. Americans depends so much, we pin our hopes on being lucky. People go out and get involved in really risky investments hoping they’re just going to get lucky. They go to casinos hoping they’re going to get lucky. We place our hope on that. And of course, the great example we started with is the lottery. Fifty percent of all Americans will buy a lottery ticket this year. Now, I’m not against you buying a lottery ticket, I just want to use it as an illustration in the big picture. We’ll spend 70 billion dollars on lottery tickets this year. And there’s not a very good chance of being lucky in the lottery. If you buy a $2 Powerball ticket, you have a 1 in 175 million chance. It’s the truth. These are their statistics of winning that lottery. And even if you do win, being lucky doesn’t take you very far. Perhaps you’ve read the statistic, it came from a study by the Department of Education, but 70% of all lottery winners that win significant lotteries are broke within 5 years. Because luck doesn’t give you self-control, it doesn’t give you wisdom, it doesn’t give you any of those things. It’s far wiser to pursue blessedness than to hope for luck. And if you embrace reverence for God, the fear of God, then you will know blessedness because God blesses those who fear Him.
Solomon didn’t just live for himself. He lived for you and he lived for me. And then God took his life and inscribed it in the pages of Scripture, this Book, of which there are billions of copies all over the world today so any one of us could look at the life of this example, this guinea pig, and know for ourselves the answers to the question, “Can all those things that I put my hopes on be the answer?” and know that the answer is, “No.” There is one essential thing above all else and that is the fear of God.
My life was a complete mess at age 23 and the subsequent years since then are a testimony, as are the life testimonies of hundreds and hundreds of people in our church, a proof of this truth, that the fear of God is a fountain of life. There’s something better than luck to put your hope in, it’s the fear of the Lord.
I want to ask you a question, do you truly fear and reverence God in your life? In other words, do you seek to please Him above pleasing any other person, even yourself? Do you put pleasing Him at the very center of every decision and every choice you make, rather than what do I think will make me happy or what pleases me? Do you believe, is it a conviction of your life, that God is so great that as the Creator of the world when He designed down to the very DNA of life, He designed it in such a way that when you do it His way, you’ll be blessed? But we’ll never prosper, not in real ways, by going against Him and sinning. Here’s the moral of the story: don’t hope for luck, don’t wait for luck, rather develop in your life, a reverence for God. If you have the fear of the Lord, then you have the greatest thing you could ever hope for. I just want to challenge you with this last thought, do not let this just be a religious lecture. This is truth from God’s Word. So how can you personally take this truth from God’s Word which He inscribed in Scripture so you could know it, how can it make a difference in your life? What adjustment would God point out to you in your attitude, or in a priority, or in choices that you’re making? What could you do to benefit and to show you truly believe there’s something better than luck, better than money, better than fame? And it’s to know God’s favor through the fear of the Lord.