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Dr. Ed Young - What Really Matters

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    Dr. Ed Young - What Really Matters
TOPICS: Priorities

John chapter 14. Jesus says, "Do not let," stop it, "do not let your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me". What's he saying? He said, "If you believe in God," yes, "you believe also in me," Jesus. Yes, "Then if your heart is troubled, stop it". Why? Because if we turn our heart over to God, turn our heart over to Jesus, he empowers us to handle, to go through, to put behind us, and to walk with him now and forever. Therefore if we keep on harboring, feeding, lamenting, crying, moaning, going into depression, questioning, challenging, digging deeper and deeper, and we have a troubled heart, he says stop it because God and Christ, I can handle it, Jesus.

John chapter 14, verse number 1. In one sense, that is what Solomon has been telling us as we have walked through 11 chapters of that book. He's saying if you're trying to find meaning, significance, a life of value, a life that has eternal rewards, you're not going to find it under the sun in parallel living, one-dimensional living. If you are reckoning your life, figuring out life's problems and challenging using only material we get from us under the sun, in horizontal living, stop it. You're not going to find a life that has significance, that has meaning, that's worth a hoot. Paraphrase. He said, look, stop trying to figure out life with human rationales. You will never do it. It's never been done. It never will be done. He said stop trying to do it and here we have Solomon now walking through these years telling us how he did everything, went everywhere, accomplished everything, became the wealthiest man on this Earth, the most gifted, talented man on this Earth, but he got down to the bottom.

He said in these 11 chapters we've studied nothing matters. Summarize 11 chapters: nothing matters. If you're Adolf Hitler, you're the apostle Paul, no difference. You're foolish, you're wise. It doesn't matter, and he says nothing matters. That's where he leaves us. Now, to be sure he's had a little flickering of God, as we studied it, but he comes to conclusion. He says it's all vanity. It's all smoke, all of life, and, you know, he's exactly right. If you and I live our life on the basis of everything we see, touch, feel, on the basis of materialism and secularism in this dimension, nothing really matters. It really doesn't, but then he comes to chapter 12, the last chapter of the book, and we're staggered. But as he cuts, starts off, and he says, "Well, by the way, there are two or three things that matter," so I don't know about you, I got on tiptoe. I said, "My goodness, here is a guy who spent all this time telling us that nothing matters. Now he says two or three things matter. What are those things that really matter"?

Look at the beginning of chapter 12 and, by the way, chapter 12, verse 1 through verse 8 tells us that time matters. T-I-M-E, time, and look what he says. "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth". The word "remember" here doesn't mean I make a list. "Here is all the groceries I'm to supply. This is what I'm to do. These are birthdays I need to remember". That's not what this word means. The word "remember" usually in the Hebrew language means, listen, "to act decisively for someone else". Nail that down. To remember means you act decisively on behalf of somebody else, so what is Solomon saying? He says remember, act decisively on the Creator, by the way, God is the only Creator that has ever created anything because he is the only Creator. Not going too fast for anybody, am I? And he created everything we see, everything that has been, everything is, everything that will be. It's called ex nihilo. He created out of nothing.

Solomon says act decisively in your life. Remember the Creator. When do you act decisively as far as God is concerned? He says while you're young. I've talked to so many people who are in their latter years about Christ, and they lived a totally humanistic, secular life. Maybe they were good, maybe they were evil, maybe they had a mixed bag, maybe they thought they were gonna do enough, give enough to get to heaven, but I've talked to 'em about God and Christ and about grace, about being a Christian, and so many of them have said, "Oh, yes, I want that," and they've received Christ. But so many of them, they had lived so long in the far, far country away from God, even though now they had gone back home, they had trouble changing, adapting to the lifestyle of someone who walks with the Almighty.

There was jadedness there. There was a crustiness there. There was a language there, a manner of thinking there that is so difficult when your life is set in old age to let God and Christ do all the changing that's necessary, so very wisely Solomon says remember, act decisively. Remember on the Creator, on God. Do business with him while you're young. Most of us become a Christian when we're young. How many of you here became a Christian before you were 30? Would you lift your hand? I rest my case. Remember, act decisively on the basis of God, on your Creator, on God. Respond to him while you're young. That's the first thing the psalmist says that matters. Eleven chapters nothing matters. He said that matters. Then he says the next thing matters is the aging process, and he gives us some beautiful, sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous pictures of getting old.

Look at them here. He said, verse 2, he said, verse 1 first of all, "The years draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them.'" We're getting old and decrepit. Verse 2. He said, "Before the sun and the light, and the moon and the stars are darkened, and the clouds return after the rain", he's talking about we slow down mentally. That's a part of the aging process. Verse 3, "In the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop..." That's our legs. That's our arm, our watchman. We tend to stoop and our legs aren't as confident as they once were. That's a part of the process. "The grinding ones stand idle because they are few". This is your teeth, my teeth. We'll develop that. "And those who look through the windows grow dim". This is our eyesight.

Man, a couple of years ago I took a woman in our church who was 103 a big-print Bible, and she said, "I don't need this Bible. I don't need that big print". And I went back and found her a Bible. The print was about that big, and she says, "I can read every word of it". She is exception. By the way, she's now, I think, 106 and active and strong and if she doesn't win in bingo about every fourth day she really gets, anyway, talking about your eyes. Our eyes get dimmer. "Furthermore, men are afraid of high place and terrors on the road". "I can't drive at night, I..." "And the almond tree blossoms," white hair, "the grasshopper drags himself along," that's the whole body, "and the canterberry is ineffective". That's the sexual drive. "For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about street".

He's saying, hey, remember your youth. Your youth matters. Remember the aging process. Then he says death is going to come. "Remember him," act decisively on the basis of God, "before and about the silver cord is broken, the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed". That's your mind, perhaps a stroke, and your heart does not function, and he gets to the end, and he says, "'Vanity of all vanities,' says Solomon, 'all is vanity!'" All does not have any value, any meaning, any significance in life, but he says, "I'll tell you what does matter: youth, the aging process, and death". Then he says that's the first thing that matters, but he gives us the second thing that matter, and you'd be surprised at this. It's words. Words.

Look at verse 9. "In addition to being a wise man, the preacher," Solomon, "also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, and he searched out and arranged many proverbs". He looked at some 13,000 of them. He picked out those that were most relevant. "The preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly". Solomon has written down words of truth. Let me tell you something. Somebody who is secular, somebody who has no belief in God, they enjoy the book of Ecclesiastes if they're really students. Why? It's because Ecclesiastes tells the truth about how life is lived independent of God. Bono, the rock 'n' roll guy, he says Ecclesiastes is one of the most influential books in his life.

Tom Wolfe, who just died, a foremost American novelist, said it's the greatest Word that's ever been written. Generally they look at life independent of God, not always, and therefore they read Ecclesiastes and said, "Here are all the profound questions. This really describes life without God vividly, clearly, correctly," and we see how Solomon carefully chose his words. Words matter. Verse 11, "The words of wise men are like goads," they're like that which goad us, "and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; and they are given by the Shepherd". What is he saying? He's saying words are goads. They goad us. What is a goad? A goad is a sharp stick. Would you take an animal, and you would stick him, not to hurt him seriously, but to make him move on, or you would take a goad, and you would stick an animal to keep him on the path. This is what words do. This is what the Word of God does for us. It's a goad saying, "Hey, don't just stay there. Move on out". It's a goad. "You're wandering off the path".

It goads us back on the path. Words are goads and also words are more than goads. They stimulate us. They inspire us. They bring life back into us and look what else he says, very wonderful things. He says they are driven by shepherds and they are nails. See it there? What happens? We have the Word of God in us, and it becomes a nail that nails down in our minds, nails done in our heart. So many times I start to do something and, bang, a verse of Scripture will pop up, and I'll say, "Oh, my goodness, what in the..." And, see, these proverbs, these sayings, the truth of God, they goad us, they move us along, they keep us on the path, and they nail truth down within you and within me. That's what, they're nails and who is the one who uses the goad? Who is the one who drives the nail? It's the shepherd. Who is the shepherd? It's the Lord. It's God. It's God as the Good Shepherd directing your life and my life as we live under the sun, if we recognize him who is above the sun.

So, we see words are important, and then he talks about many words here. Look at this, verse 12, "But beyond this, my son, he warned: the writing of many books is endless, excessive devotion in books is wearying to the body". So many times we are looking for shiny objects. That's a syndrome. "I want something that shines, something that glows. I want something that encourages. I want something that brings about a pulse. I'm looking for excitement. I'm exploring all the realms of hedonism". It's a syndrome, looking for shiny objects, and we say, "I wanna find God and know God, but I've got more questions. I haven't looked at every religion in the world yet. I haven't studied all the philosophical truths yet". And any time we have an answer, these people, they always have another question and here is another answer, here is another question, and Solomon say you can spend all your life questions and answers and question and answers and never land, never make a decision.

Let me tell you something, folks. There are two things I hear on television that I absolutely am almost violent about, personal. When another politician or talking head says, "We're gonna kick the can down the road," I wanna kick them right in the shins. If there's ever been a phrase that's worn, slapdab, out, it's that one. It means "let's just put everything off". Listen, our government is Phi Beta Kappa in putting everything off already, so if I hear that phrase I just get kinda temporarily psychotic. The other phrase that upsets me, you get into a serious conversation about a great moral or ethical question, and somebody will say, "We need to have further conversation about that". You know what I wanna do? I wanna take whoever said that out and ask them a couple of questions. I wanna say, "Let me ask you something. Have you ever had conversations about critical issues before with people"? "Oh, yes".

My next question is, "Tell me one thing you've ever done or changed as result of those conversations". I don't think I'd have a lot of comeback. Listen, there is a time to talk and discuss, then there is a time to move into action. There is a time to speculate about all of our problems and then there is a time to do something about all of our problems. There is a time to ask questions about God and life and space and there is a time to receive divine answers and respond to God and what he means about life. That is what Solomon is saying. Don't spend all your time speculating somewhere you have to respond to truth, and he says that matters. Time matters: while you're young, aging process, death will come. Time matters, and then he moves on. He says, "Let me tell you what else matters". Look at our verse. He says in verse number 13, "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God".

Let me tell you what matters: worship. Here we are. Worship, worship in awe of God, in adoration of God, listening to God, taking time out with God. Worship, worship, worship. Worship matters. Time matters, words matters, worship matters, and then he says look what else matters. Morality. He says keep the Ten Commandments. "Keep his commandments, because they applies to every person". Literally that phrase mean when we worship and we're moral and keep the commandments, we become whole, W-H-O-L-E. Everybody becomes whole. We're broken. We have holes, H-O-L-E-S, and now we become whole and complete. That's what happens.

Man, listen. We worship, and we have clean living in our lives. We obey and practice commandment. We become whole people and that matters. Time matters, words matter, worship matters, morality matters, and then I want you to look at this last verse that we're studying. This summarizes the whole book, but it staggers me. Verse 14, "For God will bring every act to judgment," say "judgement," "to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil". Three major judgments in the Bible. First of all, there is the judgment of heaven. Revelation 20, great white throne, the judgment of those who did not believe, those who are not Christians. There is a judgment in heaven. There is a judgment on Earth, Matthew 25. This is the judgment of all the nations, the sheep and the goat. Judgment on Earth. There is a judgment in air.

This is the judgment of Christians and believers, 2 Corinthians 5, Thessalonians 1:4, and many other places. We will be called into account before God. Therefore, everybody will be judged. Everybody will stand before the Almighty. Everybody will be there before the throne of God and the throne of Jesus Christ. What does that mean? It means everything matters. Instead of nothing matters, everything matters because everything we've done, we've said will be called into account before God Almighty in judgment, every little thing. Did you get it? A cup of cold water, a kind word, a vicious response. Coldness when we should have been warm, unwilling to forgive. We should be gracious. Everything, big things, little things, our motives. "Why did you do that? Why did you preach that sermon? Ooh, well, why did you go..."

Motives. Everything, good, bad, indifferent that's been done in your life and my life, hypocrisy and genuine, everything, big, little will be brought before God in judgment. Therefore, everything about your life, everything about my life matters, so whatever Solomon has been saying, nothing matters, he comes to the end and say, "Hey, there is gonna be a time of accounting". Therefore everything in your life and my life matters. Now, that ought to frighten us and scare us beyond belief, except, you see, God looks at everybody here. He doesn't see Mary and Joe and David and Alice. He doesn't see you. He doesn't see me. He looks at you, he looks at me and says, "You know what your name really is? You know what your name really is? It's Jedidiah, the one whom God loves".

And therefore because he has loved us to himself and we've received Jesus Christ, when we stand before that judgment bar, we will see eyes of love, and we'll see eyes of love in response. How in the world did this happen? Because when we in Jesus Christ have gone before the cross, listen, when you go at the foot of the cross, you don't look up there and say, "You know, I wonder how tall that cross is. I wonder how high it is". No, you go before the cross you don't say, "You know, I wonder how long those arms are on that cross". No, no, you go before the cross you don't say, "You know, I wonder how much the cross weighs".

No, go before the cross we say, "I wonder if that cross is high enough to reach to heaven, I wonder if those arms are long enough to include somebody like me, and I wonder if that cross weighs enough to tip the scales of forgiveness and grace and justice in my favor," because, you see, when we've gone before that cross we don't fear judgment because we know Jesus Christ has taken all the garbage, all the little things and big things in your life and in my life in which we struck out, in which we fumbled, in which we failed, and he has taken all of that there. And Jesus was judged on your behalf and on my behalf because God looks on us as Jedidiah, one whom he loves, and therefore judgment will be for those in Christ a moment of celebration and joy and adoration. That is the Christian life. Everything matters.
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