Worship, Sunday, February 19, 2023
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      • Psalm 15GODSWORD

  • Ah, Lord God
  • Everything Was Made By God
  • For the Beauty of the Earth
  • Everything Was Made By God
      • Matthew 5.13-14ESV

      • Matthew 5.15-16ESV

      • Ecclesiastes 12:9–14ESV

  • You’ve been writing…a letter… a story....an essay…an editorial…How you wrap it up and conclude is your final opportunity to get your message across. This chapter begins with the words, “Remember your Creator...” and includes that phrase Ecclesiastes is known for, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.”
    We’ve focused on that phrase a lot. The Preacher calls it a chasing after the wind. A vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow. And the Preacher makes a list of what things are a chasing after the wind - what is vanity - etc.
    In that list are things like:
    self indulgence
    wealth and honor
    living wisely
    All of these are things we, especially in our culture, reward. We’ve say things to our children like, “work hard, be smart, so you’ll be able to gain wealth and have the good things.” We tell them to be wise with their money, etc. etc. And the Preacher tells us this is a vapor.
    If we’re not careful, if we only focus on a few key verses within this book it can be a very dark and even depressing book. You can work hard today to create something, but it will eventually crumble, rust and dissolve. You can be smart and work hard, but whatever you work for will eventually be outdone, outdated, and irrelevant. You can indulge in the newest of technologies, the best cars, etc., but they too will pass. You can live your life wisely and yet in the end you too will pass.
    Death comes to all. As we are heading toward the season of Lent, we begin this week with Ash Wednesday, and we hear sentiments like this from the Preacher:
    Ecclesiastes 12:7 ESV
    and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
    Does anyone here remember Dion and the Belmonts? Well, in the 80’s he put out a Christian album that I somehow obtained. I think it was a door prize at an event I went to. Anyway on that album was a song where he said, “I put away my idols, I stripped away all the titles; ‘cuz money wrinkles and things do decay, I put away my idols.”
    Throughout this book the Preacher has reminded us over and over again that what we are to seek is our Creator God.
    Concluding this entire book, the Preacher ends with these words:
    Ecclesiastes 12:13–14 ESV
    The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
    There’s a lot there in those last two verses, so as we wrap up Ecclesiastes today, I’m going to spend the rest of my time in these two verses. The Preacher says, this is the end of the matter, that everything has been heard.
    The first thing we hear is:
    Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV)
    The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God ...
    We talked about this early on in our survey of this book. What does it mean to Fear God?
    If we consider the first time this phrase is used in the Bible we have to all the way back to Genesis. God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, the son of the promise. God had called to Abraham and said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering...”
    Can you imagine? To sacrifice your child? At the time Abraham was surrounded by cultures that would sacrifice their first born to their pagan gods, so perhaps he wondered to himself if he’d be willing to do the same. Now at the time Isaac is a young man - we sometimes think of him as just a small boy, but remember he was old enough to carry the wood, and enough wood for he himself to lay upon - that’s not a small amount of wood.
    And so it’s not wrong for us to also consider the faith of Isaac in this moment, the amount of trust he not only had in his father, but in his father’s God. He’s facing death!
    It can remind us of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego who were condemned by the King for refusing to bow to an idol. They answered King Nebuchadnezzar when they were faced with eminent death from being thrown into a fiery furnace, they said, Daniel 3:17-18
    Daniel 3:17–18 (ESV)
    Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.
    We’ve talked about the statement from Proverbs:
    Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    Proverbs 8:13 (ESV)
    The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
    Proverbs 9:10 ESV
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
    Proverbs 14:27 ESV
    The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
    Fearing God is just the beginning, the Preacher continues:
    Ecclesiastes 12:13 (ESV)
    The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, ...
    Keep His Commandments.
    The Commandments of God are not to be taken lightly. They are not suggestions. We read the commandments in view of todays culture and most would probably say they are words from the past. They are not for today. And we in the church run into similar issues.
    Let’s review the commandments quickly, from Exodus 20 and repeated in Deuteronomy 5, we read:
    1. “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me.”
    2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image...”
    3. “you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
    4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
    These four have to do with how we relate to God. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The next 6 have to do with how we relate to one another:
    5. “Honor your mother and father.”
    6. “You shall not murder.”
    7. “You shall not commit adultery.”
    8. “You shall not steal.”
    9. “You shall not bear false witness.”
    10. “You shall not covet.”
    Our culture wants to soften the meaning of these commandments, but that’s not what Jesus did, he raised the bar, and raised it significantly. Think about what he said regarding just commandments 6 & 7.
    Regarding murder, Matthew 5:21-22
    Matthew 5:21–22 ESV
    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
    And then regarding adultery:
    Matthew 5:27–28 ESV
    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
    That is not softening the terms it’s raising them.
    It has long been said that part of the reason that so many people try and disprove the existence of God is that if they can disprove God they can rid themselves of any objective moral standard giver. If there is no One moral giver then there is no accountability then morals are self determined and they are free to do whatever society will allow them to do.
    That’s non-biblical. There is judgment even according to the Preacher - the author of this book - Eccl 12:14
    Ecclesiastes 12:14 ESV
    For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
    This does not negate grace nor does it negate the mercy and steadfast love of God. We know it is not by works that we are saved, but according to God’s great mercy. Yet, one cannot negate the fullness of awe we should have when we encounter the presence of God!
    Every deed will come into judgment. All those things we’ve done in secret that in our minds no one else knows about will be viewed by and judged by God, whether good or evil.
    If that is not something to fear - and I do mean fear, not simply “have a reverence for”. God is Holy! WE are not.
    During the next few weeks leading up to Easter is the season of Lent, we will have an Ash Wednesday service this Wednesday at 7pm. The season is a period of reflection, and death - a dying to self.
    As we think of God our fear of him is much like a child’s good fear of their earthly father.
    We worship a Holy God, not a good friend. We worship the Creator of the Universe, not some Santa Claus. Our worship, and our faith should reflect these truths.
    My hope for you is that this Lenten season you will be intentional about your drawing closer to God. During the coming weeks we’re going to meet Jesus Again, For the First Time. I hope you’ll join us.

    In Conclusion...

    Let me pray for you...
      • Ecclesiastes 12:7ESV

      • Ecclesiastes 12:13–14ESV

      • Proverbs 9:10ESV

      • Proverbs 14:27ESV

      • Matthew 5:21–22ESV

      • Matthew 5:27–28ESV

      • Ecclesiastes 12:14ESV

  • O Bless The Gifts
  • How Great Thou Art
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