Stephen Caswell © 2003
2 brothers were discussing their life goals after Sunday school. The first brother’s goal was to be rich and famous. The second brother’s goal was to follow Christ to the fullest. The second brother went on to reach his goal. His name was David Livingstone, the renowned medical missionary and explorer of Africa. The first went on to be rich, but his fame came from another. The epitaph on his tombstone reads: Here lies the brother of David Livingstone.
What is life all about? What is the point of it all? Is it worth living? These were the questions the Preacher raised when he began the discourse that we call Ecclesiastes. After experimenting and investigating life under the sun, he concluded, No, life is not worth living! He gave four arguments to support his conclusion: the monotony of life, the vanity of wisdom, the futility of wealth, and the certainty of death. Being a wise man, Solomon reviewed his arguments and this time he brought God into the picture. What a difference it made. Life is rewarding when we fulfill God’s purpose for us. Solomon’s final admonition is that we accept life as a gift and learn to enjoy all that God shares with us. Solomon says, to do this, we must obey 3 instructions: I. Rejoice, II. Remove, III. Remember
Ecclesiastes 11:7-9a Truly the light is sweet, And it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun; But if a man lives many years And rejoices in them all, Yet let him remember the days of darkness, For they will be many. All that is coming is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
Firstly, Solomon says rejoice. What a joy it is to anticipate each new day and accept it as a fresh gift from God! Most people don't realize this truth. They live today as though life will go on forever. Often it is only through a near death experience that people realize how fragile life can be. Young person, rejoice and have a cheerful heart. Life is exciting for you and holds so much promise. Solomon especially instructs young people to take advantage of the days of your youth before the days of darkness arrive.
He was not suggesting that young people have no problems or that older people have no joys. He was simply making a generalization that youth is the time for enjoyment, before the problems of old age start to reveal themselves. Young people you have so much going for you. Usually they are healthy, strong and energetic. You are fit and can enjoy sport to the full. You have the enthusiasm and time to take on projects older folk can only dream about. Life lies before you and you have so much potential. Each new day is an adventure!
You can travel and see the world. Young people can see clearly the beauty of creation. You can hear music more crisply. You begin to experience the freedom of being adults without all of the responsibilities that come later. You can choose a vocation and earn an income. You learn to drive and become more independent. You can go out with your friends. Many of your friendships will last a lifetime. You have the joy and challenge of finding the right partner for life. Falling in love and getting married bring some of the greatest joys in life. Starting your own family is an exciting time. Serving the Lord is especially rewarding too! God wants young people to enjoy their youth. These days are some of the best that you ever have. Make the most of them because they doesn't last forever!
Dark days lie ahead and increase in number. Youth doesn't last forever, so make yours count!
Wendell P Loveless
Wendell lived a full life and accomplished much. He lived on well into his nineties and was alert to the very end. When his pastor visited with him at this time, Wendell said this, I don’t go out much now because my parents won’t let me ....... Mother Nature and Father Time!
Young people have so much time, more opportunities, more freedom and many choices to make. Young person, are you enjoying the days of your youth? Do you play sport? Are you building lasting friendships? Are you visiting new places? Are you using your time wisely? Do you thank God for His goodness to you? Are you serving Him? Young person rejoice!
Ecclesiastes 11:7-9b Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity.
Secondly, Solomon gives a warning, with increased freedom, opportunities and choices comes responsibility. The choices you make will carry direct consequences for good or bad. What we sow today we will reap tomorrow. Our choices today have a bearing on our future lives. They will affect our character for good or bad. Young people have to watch their hearts and their eyes, because either or both can lead them into sin. Walk in the ways of your heart, is not an encouragement to go on a youthful fling and satisfy the sinful desires within. It is rather a reminder for young people to enjoy the special pleasures that belong to youth and can never be experienced again in quite the same way.
1 Timothy 6:17 says that God gives us all things richly to enjoy, but it is always wrong to enjoy the pleasures of sin. Solomon’s warning is evidence that he doesn’t have sinful pleasures in mind: God will bring you into judgment. The young person who enjoys life in the will of God will have nothing to worry about when the Lord returns. Privileges must be balanced by personal responsibilities. Young people must remove anxiety out of their hearts and evil away from their flesh. The word translated sorrow means vexation, inner pain, anxiety. If we are living in the will of God, we will have the peace of God in our hearts.
Young people, use your freedom wisely. Bad company corrupts good morals, so choose your friends carefully. Worldly friends will pressure you to drink, smoke, take drugs. Worldly people usually pull others down to their level. They will encourage you to join them in deceiving your parents about your whereabouts, swearing or telling dirty jokes. They will encourage you to drive foolishly and break the law. They may tempt you to into sexual immorality. Today temptation to sin abounds everywhere. Many people live to regret the sins of their youth. God greatly blessed Samson. Clearly, God’s Spirit was with him. Yet Samson became proud, thinking he was strong enough to play with sin. He crossed over into enemy territory once to often and was overcome by his sinful desires. So, let us remove sinful desires and practices. Flee worldly music & movies, avoid being enslaved to bad habits.
Corrupt Thoughts Lead To Bad Habits
Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny!
Drunkards curse the day that they started drinking when they were young. Smokers do the same when cancer attacks. Drugs are bringing untold heartache to people today. Young Christian don’t even go out for fun with a non Christian. Too many believers have done this only to become emotionally involved. Ninety nine times out of a hundred the non Christian leads the Christian away from the Lord. Don’t be unequally yoked to non believers, choose beforehand to marry a Christian. Pray for God’s guidance. I visited my father in law in hospital recently. Across from him was a young man paralyzed from a motor cycle accident. He came off at 170 kms/ hour. He was only twenty years old. How many young lives are ruined from a rash moment of showing off on the roads? Avoid the credit trap. Unnecessary debt can become a burden for years to come.
Thousands of single girls become pregnant and ruin their lives when they ignore God's Word. Their plans for life change drastically. During the 80s in America 33,000 teenagers caught a sexually transmitted disease every day. Many of these are incurable leading to death. Yet God has ordained that the sex inside marriage should be rewarding. Sexual immorality only steals away your future joy from God. If people sow sin they will reap the results later in life. Sin always leads you further than you intend to go. People's lives are often ruined when they yield to sinful pleasures in their youth.
Probably the greatest tragedy in all of this is that sin hardens the heart. It is much harder for people ensnared by drugs, alcohol and immorality to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. Many of the choices you make now will affect your character for life. It’s not that God can’t cleanse us from these things. It’s just that the consequences remain. Therefore you must be careful to remove sin and with it sorrow from your life. The best way to have a happy adult life and a contented old age is to get a good start early in life and avoid the things that will bring trouble later on. Young people who take care of their minds and bodies, avoid the destructive sins of the flesh, and build good habits of health and holiness, have a better chance for happy adult years than those who sow their wild oats and pray for a crop failure.
Guidelines To Be Recited
The Boston School Committee directed that the following commandments be read biweekly to pupils in Grades 7 through 12:
1. Don’t let your parents down; they’ve brought you up.
2. Stop and think before you drink.
3. Be smart, obey! you’ll give orders yourself someday.
4. Show-off driving is juvenile; don’t act your age.
5. Ditch dirty thoughts fast or they will ditch you.
6. Pick the right friends to be picked for a friend.
7. Choose a date fit for a mate.
8. Don’t go steady unless you’re ready.
9. Love God and neighbor.
10. Live carefully. The soul you save may be your own.
Charles Spurgeon said Youthful sins lay a foundation for aged sorrows. How do we remove sin from our lives? By obeying God's Word. Psalm 119:9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. Read and obey God’s Word. Meditate on it, and memorize it. Guard your heart from sinful desires and choose your friends carefully. Choose in advance to do what is right, before your peers try to pressure you to compromise.
The command to rejoice in the days of ones youth must be governed by God's Word. Increased freedom and choices also means greater responsibility and consequences. Solomon tells us to be careful of the lust of the eyes and desires of the heart. These desires can lead us into sin. Are you removing sinful practices from your life? Do you obey the road rules? Are you careful what you watch on TV? Do you stand up against peer pressure to drink, smoke or take drugs? Are you keeping yourself pure for the person you will marry? Are you obeying God's Word? Solomon warns us that God will judge our lives.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-2 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, I have no pleasure in them: While the sun and the light, The moon and the stars, Are not darkened, And the clouds do not return after the rain;
Solomon's third command is to remember your Creator Now! His third instruction means more than think about God. It means pay attention to, consider with the intention of obeying. By referring to God as our Creator Solomon highlights the fact that we are accountable to Him. God made us and knows what is best for us! God has a special plan for our lives. When you are considering what kind of work you will do, remember your Creator. Find out what He wants you to do with your life. When you consider who you should marry, remember your Creator. He has someone picked out, someone just right for you. He provided a Godly wife for Isaac and He will provide one for you if you will ask Him. Pray about these decisions. Ask Him to lead you. Remember your Creator. He knows what is best for you. Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Follow The Makers Instructions
When you purchase a new appliance you also receive an instruction manual in the box. The manufacturer puts it there so the consumer will know how to operate the appliance safely. Since they made the product in the first place they are qualified to tell us how to operate it. If we don't follow the instructions we only hurt ourselves or break the appliance.
Well the same is true of the Christian life. Since God made us, only He knows what makes us tick. If you want to get the most out of life remember your Creator while you are young. Commit your plans to Him early in life lest bad choices ruin your life. If you want to avoid heartache and sorrow you need to follow your makers instructions. It is foolish to ignore your Creator. God loves you. Jeremiah 29:11:says: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Diminishing Age Of Salvation
Nineteen out of every twenty who become Christians do so before they reach the age of twenty-five. After twenty-five, only one in 10,000. After thirty-five, only one in 50,000. After forty-five, only one in 200,000. After fifty-five, only one in 300,000. After sixty-five, only one in 500,000. After seventy-five, only one in 700,000.
The great evangelist D. L. Moody was once asked, How many converts did you have last night. He answered, Two and one-half. You mean two adults and a child? No, he replied. Two children and one adult. A child converted is an entire life converted.
How easy it is to neglect the Lord when you are caught up in the enjoyments and opportunities of youth. It is easy to think that you are invincible, the master of your own destiny. You think that you can get right with God later. But this simply is not true. God controls the future. Solomon warns that dark days lie ahead. Therefore we had better lay a good spiritual foundation as early in life as possible. During our youthful years, the sky is bright 11:7; but the time will come when there will be darkness and one storm after another. Young person remember God and seek Him now. Isaiah 55:6 says: Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.
Death Comes To All
Ecclesiastes 12:3-7 give us one of the most imaginative descriptions of old age and death found anywhere in literature. Here we see here a picture of a house that is falling apart and finally returns to the dust. A dwelling place is a biblical metaphor for the body. Verse 7 describes the events immediately following death. The spirit leaves the body, the body begins to decay, and eventually it turns into dust. This of course harmonizes with the narrative from Genesis 3:19: In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.
At death our souls and spirits leave our bodies which are buried and decay. After death your Spirit is in God’s hands. He is sovereign and able to send us wherever He wills. How we have responded to our Creator in life will determine where we spend eternity. If we reject the Lord Jesus Christ who made us and died for us our long home will be hell. If we receive Him it will be heaven! What long home are you headed for?
Finney: Then What
Charles G. Finney, a young lawyer, was sitting in a village law office in the state of New York. Finney had just come into the old squire’s office. It was very early in the day, and he was all alone when the Lord began to deal with him.
“Finney, what are you going to do when you finish your course?”
“Put out a shingle and practice law.”
“Then what?” “Get rich.”
“Then what?” “Retire.”
“Then what?” “Die.”
“Then what?” And the words came tremblingly, “The judgment.”
He ran for the woods a half mile away. All day he prayed, and vowed that he would never leave until he had made his peace with God. He saw himself at the judgment bar of God. For four years he had studied law, and now the vanity of a selfish life, lived for the enjoyment of the things of this world, was made clear to him.
Finney came out of the woods that evening, after a long struggle, with the high purpose of living henceforth to the glory of God and of enjoying Him forever. From that moment blessings untold filled his life, and God used him in a mighty way, not as a lawyer but as a preacher, to bring thousands to conversion over a useful period of fifty years.
Solomon's final command is to remember your Creator in the days of our youth. Don't take God's goodness for granted! Don’t ignore your makers instructions. Only He can provide a life that is fulfilling. God has a wonderful plan for you. Don't think that you can get right with God later on. The future is not yours to control, it’s God’s. Are you remembering your creator now? Are you living to please Him? Are you seeking Him concerning your future vocation? Are you asking Him to lead you to the partner He has prepared for you? Are you acknowledging Him in all your plans? In which long home have you made a reservation?
Livingstone Thinks It No Sacrifice
People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward of healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?
Away with such a word, such a view, and such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.
In Ecclesiastes chapters 11 and 12 we have Solomon’s final admonition that we accept life as a gift and learn to enjoy all that God shares with us. In order to do this, we must obey 3 instructions: Rejoice in your youth, Remove sin and sorrow from your life, and Remember your Creator in your youth, find out His plans for your life.
Jude 24-25 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.