Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Remember your Creator …"

Day #334:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - November 27th

Scripture Reading:  Ecclesiastes 11 - 12 … 

Perhaps the best advice anyone could give or receive is found in this simple phrase:  "Remember your Creator!"  People are dying, physically, emotionally and spiritually because they don't remember, don't think about, don't consider this truth, that they were created BY God and FOR God, and that living for any other reason is DEATH.  Of all His creation, it was only Adam and Eve, mankind, who were created in God's image.  As spiritual beings we were created to know God, our Creator, and deep within every human being there remains this awareness that there is something more, someONE more … a "Higher Being," as God is sometimes called.  It is in forgetting our Creator that millions live the life that Solomon rightly calls "meaningless; a chasing after the wind."

In Chapter 11, Solomon describes the unpredictable nature of life.  You "cast your bread upon the waters" (11:1) and see what you get back.  You give to others, but you hold back because "you do not know what disaster may come upon the land" (11:2).  Certain things can be known:  dark clouds lead to rain and when a tree falls it lies where it fell.  But other things cause indecision:  life is like watching the weather and trying to decide what to do.  "As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things" (11:5).  We have wisdom to accomplish many things, yet we seem to forget that in a moment God can change it all.  Our lives are in His hands, as are the results of all our labor.  "You do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well" (11:6).

One thing is certain:  nothing on earth is certain … except that which God reveals to those who are given eyes to see and ears to hear.  So Solomon goes on to tell the young that they should enjoy the years when they are young, to follow the ways of their hearts and to do what they want to do, "BUT know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment" (11:9).  Living life to do whatever you want means that you have forgotten your Creator and have given in to the temptation to make yourself "God!"  Jesus said that He came to reveal the Father to those whom the Father had given Him, and the knowledge Jesus gives through His Word and Spirit begins here.

The Apostle Paul says in Romans 1:18-20 that "the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."  Modern science has "discovered" so many things in the past century, all of which point to our Creator.  And yet, the more we discover the more we use our supposed "wisdom" to exclude God!

David wrote in Psalm 19:1-4:  "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the earth."  Everything points to our CREATOR, yet, because of the spiritual darkness and blindness caused by our rebellion against God, the result of spiritual death caused by the sin that has been passed from Adam on, Paul's description of mankind explains the tragedy of human life on planet earth from Adam to today:

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (Romans 1:21-23).  The rest of that chapter explains that God gave man over to His sinful and depraved mind and heart and the result is what you see all around you today.  Already, God's wrath is poured out in thousands of ways upon those who believe that if there is a "god," he/she/it should treat them better.  How foolish we have become.

Back to Ecclesiastes, Solomon goes on to call people to "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come" (12:1).  Throughout the Bible God makes it clear that no one escapes the consequences of sin and mankind's rebellion that are all around us.  Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  In THIS world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).  Solomon encourages his readers to remember their Creator before the trials of life and the burdens of older age come upon them … when they can no longer see, when their teeth no longer work, when they can no longer walk … before "man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets" (12:5) … before you DIE!!  "Remember Him - before … the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (12:6-7).

All this, from man's perspective, is "Meaningless! Meaningless!  Everything is meaningless!" (12:8).  Yet, there is something that can give meaning to all that Solomon has examined and to all the experiences of mankind from the beginning to end.  "The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails - given by one Shepherd" (12:11).  "Goads" were sharp prods that were used to get dumb animals to move in a certain direction.  God's words are intended to move foolish people to turn toward the Good Shepherd, the One who alone can lead them to safe pasture and protect them from their enemies.  Those who reject and ignore God's Word do so to their own destruction, for LIFE is found in the truth He has revealed.

As he considers all these things, God leads Solomon to his conclusion:  "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (12:13-14).  Wisdom, according to Solomon, is knowing God, loving Him and living in obedience to His Word.  Anything else is foolishness, meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  Just look how so many people are living today.  They are "without hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).  And yet when we who know the one true God point them to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and life, they reject the truth and perish, as they were destined to do.  They are without excuse.

The writer of Hebrews, more than a thousand years later, comes to the same conclusion:  "For the Word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:12-13).  It does no good to try to hide, to pretend that these things are not true.  It is much better to remember your Creator, to know Him as He has revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ as the just and holy God who in love sent His own Son to pay the penalty for sin for all who believe in Him.

Apart from the work of God's Spirit, you and I would be blind along with the rest of mankind.  It is by GRACE that we are saved, "undeserved favor."  God comes to those who are spiritually dead and unable to "remember" Him and gives us new life … a new mind, a new heart, a new will.  And the first decision that new mind, heart and will makes is to place its hope in the perfect Son of God and His sacrifice on the cross.  Praise God that He does not leave all of us in our sinful state of spiritual death.  Thank Him for His gift of salvation; for the forgiveness of your sins and the promise of eternal life, the possession of all who believe in Jesus.

We know … and YOU can know that "there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!" (Romans 8:1).  As John writes, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (I John 5:12-13).  May the Spirit of the living God so work in you that you discover true wisdom - the wisdom of God that leads you to acknowledge Him as your Creator, your Savior and your Lord!

"Lord God Almighty, I acknowledge You alone as the one true God, the Creator of all things … MY Creator!  As I live in this world I see now so clearly the sinful rebellion of the entire human race and I am amazed at Your grace to me, for apart from Your grace I, too, would be blind.  I confess even now that I still see the pull of the old nature of sin within me and I cling to Your promise of forgiveness and life through Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord.  Help me now, Father, to obey Your commands from a willing heart, out of love for You and my neighbor, that I may live in this world to glorify You until I enter Your eternal kingdom with joy and thanksgiving, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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