First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ October 18, 2020)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
Ecclesiastes 12:1-8; James 4:13-17
As you may remember, since July, we’ve been examining together the book of Ecclesiastes. We have followed King Solomon, who, by the way, calls himself the Preacher, we have followed the Preacher on his journey to find the true meaning of life. As King Solomon started out his quest to find the meaning of life, he only found himself going in circles; going down cul-de-sacs; going in turnabouts, and discovering that all of the things that he pursued without God left him right back where he started, only tired for the energy he had invested in the journey.
As we get to the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, it seems that Solomon ties up all the loose ends. Solomon has taken us through the journey and has helped us understand that life without God is a meaningless experience. As I said, it’s like being in a cul-de-sac, it’s like going around about. It keeps you spinning, but it gets you nowhere. It just leaves you empty and exhausted. Throughout Ecclesiastes, the Preacher offered many metaphors to describe this reality. He said that life without God is like chasing the wind. It’s like vanity. It’s like a puff of smoke. Life without God, Solomon has demonstrated in many ways, is meaningless.
In the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reaches his final conclusion. We will get the chance today and next Sunday to look at this chapter. In the first part of his conclusion, in Ecclesiastes 12:1-8, the Preacher reminds us and invites us to seriously consider the truth that we are creatures of time. Time is important. We are born and one day, we die. Our journey here on earth has a beginning and it also has an end. Between these two moments, our birth and our death, our beginning and our end, God has given us a purpose to fulfill, a mission to accomplish, so beware of time.
Solomon kept the best until last and in his conclusion, the Preacher offers us some helpful insights. Let me briefly share a couple of Solomon’s insights as he concludes Ecclesiastes:
First: Remember Your Creator
“Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come,” the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes 12:1. Two times in this last chapter, verses 1 & 6, Solomon says, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth.” When we are young, we think we don’t need to be serious about God now. There’s time for that later. We will get serious about God when we’re older. But Solomon says, “Get your stuff with God together when you’re young so you can carry that into your adult years, and you will have this solid foundation that will give you such stability as you face the storms of life.”
Do it as young as you can because before you knew it, the days of trouble will come. “What is your life?” asked the apostle James in chapter 4:17. “For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” A mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. I read this week about a little boy who asked his grandmother how old she was and she said, “I’m 39 and holding.” The little boy thought for a moment and said, “Grandma, how old would you be if you let go?” Time flies by, doesn’t it? Therefore, we need to remember our creator as early as we can. The word “remember” means to fully get involved. To make a room for God in your lives. To take God seriously.
Then we get to verses 3 to 7. These verses could be depressing. Take a deep breath, everybody over 40. Solomon is gonna give us a little picture, sort of poetically and metaphorically about getting older. I will not cover the whole list but let me give you a few examples.
He starts out by saying in verse 3: “In the day when the guards of the house tremble,” well, the ghuards of your house are your arms and your hands. As we get older, they start to tremble. “The strong men,” those are your legs, your knees, and your shoulders weaken and you walk bent over. And then it says: “When the grinders cease because they are few.” That means you’re losing your teeth. And then it says: “When the windows grow dim.” That means your eyesight isn’t very good. “The doors on the street are shut.” That means you can’t hear what’s going on outside anymore. Then the Preacher talks about “all the daughters of song are brought low” which means your voice starts to quiver and weaken. Then we become afraid of heights and afraid of falling when you walk down the street. As we age, “the almond tree blossoms” which means your hair turns white. And then it says, “all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets.” That’s a funeral procession. Embrace your aging thankfully, the Preacher would say, and do something for God and His kingdom.
Second: It’s Never Too Late to Start Over
But what should I do if I never had the chance to surrender my life to Christ when I was younger? What should I do if I never considered following Christ? What should I do if I really never made a room for God in my life? “Do it now,” Solomon would say. As long as we breathe, it’s never too late.
A couple months ago, I met with a man about my age whose life is on the edge. He has been going through a tough time and it seemed there is no hope. I listened to him as he opened his heart to me and after about an hour, he asked me, “What should I do now?” “Start over,” I said. The fact is, everyone experiences failure in life. Life is never an unbroken series of victories. We all have setbacks and losses, and sometimes a defeat can seem to overwhelm you.
In Job 17:11, Job said, “My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.” This is a picture of a man who was so overwhelmed, so broken, but by God’s grace he was restored and he accomplished God’s purposes in his life. Some of us may feel like Job today, “My days have passed, and my plans are shattered.” Have you ever felt like that? Then let me remind you. Our God is the God of new beginnings. It’s never too late to start over. God is able to take a minus in your life and turn it into a plus. God specializes in turning crucifixion into resurrection. Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross so that you could have a second chance – a new beginning. So whether you’re in your twenties, fifties, or eighties, remember your creator. That’s still a chance to do that. Let’s love God and honor God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.
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