Part 13 of Ecclesiastes: In the midst of a fallen world, God’s people must consider His providential work in all circumstances.

Part 13 – The Sermon: Consider This– Reverend Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Church The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Have you ever wondered what God is doing in your life? Are Christians really okay to think that God is dealing with them individually not just with his body the church as a whole? What do we do when God is at work in our lives in ways we just don’t understand and can make sense of?

The Big Idea: In the midst of a fallen world, God’s people must consider His providential work in all circumstances.

I. Consider God’s wisdom and power (v. 13).

Who can change the path God has laid out though to us it looks crooked? Answer: no one. When things are going well we don’t ask why is God doing that? Likely, even, we say that we are awesome. We fall into thinking when things are good it’s us, and when it’s bad its him. This is not what Solomon says.

Romans 8:20-21 says that God is in the midst of something and working even though it’s crooked. Is the world in which we live crooked? Yes. Why? It’s subjected to futility from the Fall in the garden. Vs 28 in the same chapter, Paul answers what he is up to: he is making all things work for our good as followers of Christ who love him, even if we can’t see why it’s crooked.

Somehow we think that God owes us an explanation behind everything he does. In the same way a child cannot effectively pickup the family car with the parents not telling them all their logic, Gd does not tell us all the logic behind his ways.

II. Consider how to live rightly in light of God’s plan (v. 14).

V14 is interesting: God makes both the good paths foor us and the hard paths. We will not always get the answers why. We want these answers but we don’t get them. The bible is full of examples of this. The most stirring is Christ in the garden when he prays over his crooked lot that God would change it. But he willingly submits to Gods will to be done.

The passage:
13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

What do you think of your culture?

Photo. By Jodi Blick, Pacific Ocean 2012

“Some of us are not happy with the culture in which we have been placed. We might wish it were more conservative or more liberal, more urban or more rural, more like Calvin’s Geneva or more like America’s 1950s. But God has put us right where we are and, like Daniel, we have before us the task of serving our neighbors by learning their language, their literature, their aesthetics, and their priorities. When we understand our culture we can bring glory to God and great good to our neighbor by using creative cultural vehicles to bring God’s word to life for them.”

Are we a good student of our culture? Is our heart big with heaviness for the people inside that culture? What are the idols that the culture has, and what are the bridges we can use to bring the glory of the joy of the gospel to a people?

Quote from Liturgy, Music, and Space, chapter 9, by Isaac Wardell

Ecclesiastes Part 12: Living well requires us to order our lives according to biblical wisdom, and look to t he consummation of all God’s wisdom.

Santa Cruz, Ca, Jodi photo 2012

Part 12 – The Sermon: Living well– Reverend Kyle McClellan, Senior Minister, Grace Church The Sermon Passage: Ecclesiastes 7:1-12

Intro. Are you living well? What about those people that own homes at lake Okoboji with all the boats? Are they living well? What is the authority to answer this question? It is not the American dream that is the authority. How does the Bible define “living well”?

Solomon answers this question not with another question but with a series of proverbs.

The Big Idea: Living well requires us to order our lives according to biblical wisdom, and look to the consummation of all God’s wisdom.

I. Reverse engineer your life (vv. 1-4).

Solomon first answers this question by taking us to the funeral home. It is better to have lots of stuff when you die or a good name? What kind of a name are you making for yourself? Image you in the casket. How are they remembering you? Cheerful? Critical? Truthful? Fast and loose with the truth? Stories of your generosity? Or stinginess? Every funeral anticipates our own. You really preach your own funeral and the pastor is just tying a bow oonce message your life proclaimed.

II. Wisdom is better (vv. 5-12).

1. The King’s Gate or the Dung Gate? (vv. 5-6).

Our ears are gateways is the metaphore Solomon uses. What are we listening too? At the king’s gate is where the council of the elders took place. This where the wise are. Only two things go through the dung gate: trash and dead bodies. If all you are doing is listening to the laughter of fools, ie. the dung gate, there is nothing sustaining in that just like thorns that are good to start fires to cook over but not sustain the fire to get the cooking done.

2. Wait patiently (vv. 7-10).

Living well means that we trust patiently God’s good plan even when we do not see it.

3. Steward wisdom well (vv. 11-12).

He links wisdom to money and says to steward both of these really well. It is good to have a savings to be able to get to when times are tough.

However, this is not the gospel so we need the rest of the story. Saving is good but not unique to the cross. 1 Thes 1:6 says the Thessalonian church received the word in much affliction. Paul says they are eagerly waiting for God’s son to return. They are waiting on the Lord. Solomon says that the end of something is better than its beginning. The real hope we have is not our savings but this solid hope of seeing and waiting for Christ’s return like the Thessalonians.

How will those you love grieve at your funeral? Will they grieve as those who have no hope? Or will they grieve in deep hope? how have you taught them to grieve?

III. Anticipate God’s Greater Wisdom (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

How will we grieve with much hope? Paul lays out like Solomon that the birth of Christ is great but the end is better than the beginning. That is why he says in this Thessalonians passage that the death and resurrection of Christ is our guarantee and solid hope. It is his work in this for us on our behalf not about what we do or have done for him. Paul says the hope is because Christ died and was raised again not about our effort. Christ is the only solid hope. Come and get it.

The passage:

1 A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.
7 Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. 11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.

God uses hymns! Great quote from Spurgeon emailed to me from mom! None of us sinners is beyond saving!

Okoboji 2012, Jodi pic

“I recollect walking out to preach nigh unto forty years ago, just when I began my witnessing for the Lord Jesus. As I trudged along with a somewhat older brother, who was going to preach at another village station, our talk was about our work, and he said to me, “Does it not strike you as a very solemn thing that we two local preachers are going to do the Lord’s work, and much may depend even upon the very hymns we give out, and the way in which we read them?” I thought of that, and I prayed — and often do pray — that I may have the right hymn and the right chapter, as well as the right sermon. Well do I remember a great sinner coming into Exeter Hall, and I read the hymn beginning, “Jesus, lover of my soul,” and that first line pierced him in the heart. He said to himself, “Does Jesus love my soul?” He wept because he had not loved the Savior in return; and he was brought to the Savior’s feet just by that one line of a hymn. It does make it the burden of the Lord when you see life, death, and Hell, and worlds to come hanging, as it were, upon the breath of a mortal man by whom God speaks to the souls of his fellows.”

on page 56 of SPURGEON GOLD —

Dorsett day 4: The big idea: Jesus had a huge heart of compassion for people – if we are honest, he had compassion on people like you and me. Let that melt your heart as the Holy Spirit uses that to change you from the inside-out.

Okoboji 2012. Jodi Blick. August 6

Dr. Lyle Dorsett. Day Four. The Supremacy of Christ.

Intro. The Greek word for compassion is used in the gospels to describe Christ.

The big idea: Jesus had a huge heart of compassion for people – if we are honest, he had compassion on people like you and me. Let that melt your heart as the Holy Spirit uses that to change you from the inside-out.

I. Read the gospels asking questions – i.e. what stirred Jesus’ heart? Here are five examples:

A. People’s confusion or bewilderment. Matt 9:36, 14:14
B. People’s maladies and pains. Matt 20:34
C. The demon possessed. Mark 9:22
D. The grief-stricken people. Luke 7:13
E. The ostracized, marginalized and lonely. Mark 1:41

II. What does Scripture teach about God’s compassion? Toward a Biblical theology of compassion:

A. God’s compassionate heart. Psalm 86:15. He is a slow to anger, compassionate God. As in Keller’s Generous Justice book, God has a special place in his heart for the widows, the fatherless, the poor, the misfits, the strangers, the sinners.
B. Jesus’ words: if you have seen me you have seen the Father. We are both compassionate 🙂 the cmpassionate triune God – John 14:9 C. Matt 25:31 – when we do compassion to others, it is really done to Christ.
D. John 20:21. As the Father has sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us. The Father sent a Son who was compassionate and lived incarnate with people. That is just how he sends us!

The supremacy of Christ – Day one of Okoboji Camp by Dr, Lyle Dorsett, former Wheaton College professor when Jodi and I were there.

Photo. By Sr. Blick 2012, 244 Grand Ave., Grand Haven, MI

Dr. Lyle Dorsett. Day one. The supremacy of Christ.

Intro.

Our culture in North America has lost its true north. As an historian, Lyle has studied prisoners of war in WWII compared to POWs from Vietnam. Upon release there was much infighting between our soldiers. Why was that common unlike POWs in WWII? After speaking with a General of the airforce who was the then Comendant of the Airforce Academy, he reached these three conclusions: there was pride in wanting to be photographed one over another, there was competition between the branches of the military to not work as a comprehensive team, and people were taught that they themselves were true north with nothing higher than themselves.

The general told these college professors largely in the 60’s they in the universities taught three things differently than what most soldiers in WWII believed. There was the unraveling of thinking that it was too cool to like your country and more cool to hate it, criticize it and burn its flag once in a while. It also became cool to think that you didn’t need family and to make fun of any family that valued or looked like Leave it to Beaver family. It became cool to think that there is not a God. Most of these three pillars are what most soldiers had going into WWII – respect for country, family, and a belief if not a love for God – all of these things are higher than ourselves. Vietnam vets learned largely in universities and culture that the self was higher than nation, family, and God.

The big idea: Jesus Christ is the supreme true north for our compass.

Why should you put your faith in him? Why is he the superior compass true north than urwelves? Because this is no Hindu god or Budist theology – this is THE SUPREME God, Jesus Christ!

Jesus is supreme:

A. In heaven and earth. Matt 28:18:20
B. in creation. Col. 1:15-17
C. In revealing God. Heb. 1
D. Over the church. Col. 1:18
E. in history. 1 Cor. 15:24-26
F. Over hell and hades. 1 Pet. 3:19, 4:6
G. Over the spiritual world. 2 Cor 10:3-6
H. Over all eternity. John 14:1-4, 1:17-20, chapter 21

Heaven will be a delight to learn everyday more of the spectacular nature of Christ and all he is and has done! John 17:3. Eternal life is to know the father and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.