Sunday Reflections (Sept. 23rd, 2012): YOLO, Antioch’s 26th Church Anniversary
YOLO (You Only Live Once)
That was the title of a message I gave at Paul Quinn College’s Chapel service on this past Friday from the book of Ecclesiastes chapters 11 and 12. Here is a sketch of what I brought out in this passage:
There is a book of the Bible written by a man named Solomon who is now in his older years seeking to share his wisdom and reflection with us the younger generation about our human experience in this life. It is called the book of Ecclesiastes.
He reflects on topics such as: work, self-indulgence, living wisely, wealth, and wisdom and knowledge.
If anyone had the qualifications to speak on the things that he addresses in this book, it was him. He was the wisest man in his day. He had what many of us seek to obtain after we graduate from college: Position, Power, Popularity, and Possessions (He reigned as the King of Israel after his father David).
At the outset of and at various points throughout this book, he states that all these things (i.e., man’s activity under the sun), in and of themselves and as ends of themselves, are vanity (1. fleeting or transitory, 2. futile – it is to no advantage/useless/meaningless, and 3. incomprehensible).
As one commentary said about this book, “the dominant mood of the book is pessimism, but the author, Solomon, was no pessimist, cynic, or skeptic as some critics have claimed. He was a believer who sought to destroy people’s confidence in their own efforts, their own abilities, their own righteousness…”
But he also sought to direct us on how to truly and fully live this one and only life that we have been given under the sun. There are four commands that Solomon gives us in Ecclesiastes 11 and 12.
1. Rejoice in your youth (11:9)
God says through Solomon, “Enjoy life, particularly when you are young.”
Solomon encourages us to do what our hearts desire. But he knows better than just to give us a blank check. He knows well that our hearts or our human nature is bent towards wickedness, so he tempers our desires or passions with the sobering reality that God will bring us into judgment (vs. 9b).
This should cause us to pause and give some serious prayer and thought to the decisions we make in this life.
Enjoy life within the parameters that God has set. Enjoy life in light of God’s judgment.
2. Remove vexation (worry/sorrow/disturbed) from your heart and pain (also could mean “evil”) from your body (11:10)
Solomon essentially instructs us to take care of ourselves psychologically and physically (spiritually – by putting away evil). Why? “For youth and the dawn of life are vanity (i.e., fleeting).”
Stop fretting (resolve to no longer waste your emotional energy on things you can neither change nor control) and stop abusing your body in your young age (or stop doing evil).
3. Remember our Creator, God, in the days of your youth (12:1-)
Dr. William D. Barrick said the following regarding this verse: “Remembering one’s Creator involves more than mere memory or acknowledgment. For the Hebrew writers, “remember” involves action, or allowing the objects of remembrance to “shape one’s perspective in the present.” First, we must “drop our pretence of self-sufficiency and commit ourselves to Him.” If an individual neglects serving the Creator in intentional obedience to His Word, “the capacity for joy will be lost.”
4. Respect God and do what He commands (12:13-14)
Dr. Barrick quotes Daniel J. Estes when he writes, the advantage (meaning, fulfillment, satisfaction) “resides not in human achievement apart from God, but rather in human connection with God.”
Our lives will only find true fulfillment and satisfaction in relationship with God. Solomon says it this way in Ecclesiastes 2:24-25, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil [work]. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”
You only live [this life] once, so live it in relationship with God and in light of eternity.
Antioch’s 26th Church Anniversary
Today we celebrated our church’s 26th year of being in existence. God has truly been good to us! We had two guest preachers today (well, one was really not a guest.).
At Worship 1 (7:30 a.m.), our Pastor’s oldest son, Chris Wesley (Youth Pastor at Consolidated Baptist Church in Lexington, KY), preached on “It’s Coming!” from Genesis 50:24-25 and at Worship 2 (10 a.m.), Dr. R. Timothy Jones, Senior Pastor of Peaceful Rest MBC in Shreveport, LA, preached on “God’s Will for Your Life” from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It was a great time of worship and Word. We saw around 20 youth and young adults respond to Jesus in repentance and faith today! We are looking forward to baptizing them and discipling them in the way of Jesus!
We will conclude our church anniversary month this week with a three-day revival with Pastor Jimmy C. Baldwin Sr. (Shiloh Christian Community Family Life Center) from Baltimore, Maryland.
Well that’s about it. Have a great week!
P.S. – Thanks for your patience with my lack of posting over the last few weeks. This month has been super busy and I am still learning how to best manage all that is going on. Again, thanks for reading my blog and sticking with me.