The writer of Ecclesiastes [king Solomon?] doesn’t pull any punches. He says the hard honest truth. And he should know. He was the wisest man who lived, save Jesus Christ. Long life, lots of children, hard work and ambition: none of this will bring satisfaction or mean to a person unless God is part of the picture.
The book of Ecclesiastes is an interesting book, to say the least. Pastor Jeff continued in his series on this book to help listeners understand that our “good enough” will never actually be good enough. So what will be? Maybe if you listen…
King Solomon was the wisest man whoever lived. That is what the Bible says. He tried everything to find the most joy and pleasure in life. His research and results are captured for our benefit in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiates. Pastor Jeff basically shared that our outlook greatly influences the outcome in our lives. If we respond to what happens to us in life as “God ordained” then we will or can learn and grow in ways that make us into the image God has in mind for us. If our outlook is that we are the master of our own fate, then we will likely experience the good and bad in life without seeing the value God is attempting to create in us.
People “label” themselves and other in all sorts of ways. Think of what you may have been called when you were younger? Labels can communicate truth, and they can motivate. Jesus used one label perhaps more than any other: hypocrite. He criticized those who were “hypocrites” more than anything. And that is what Pastor Jeff’s sermon is about.
Sending St Paul to be a missionary to the gentiles?! How crazy can that be? He was a perfect candidate to reach Jews; why would God send him to the gentiles? Well, that is just one example of how God does things we would never expect, and it is also a demonstration that God can use you and me to accomplish what He wants, whether we think its crazy or not.
The epistle of St Paul to the Galatians is a favorite of many historical church “giants”. It in the Apostle Paul dispenses with formalities and immediately gets puts his “beefs” on the table: “I can’t believe that you are forsaking the Jesus of the gospel I delivered to you!!” We risk the same admonition if we drift off to one or the other “feel good” idea.
Pastor Jeff’s main text today was John 21 – Jesus helping his disciples refocus on the mission he had given them after they had slipped back into what was comfortable for them – Fishing. But much of what Jesus was teaching in Chapter 15 is foundational for what comes in Chapter 21. Jesus wants; he expects his followers to bear much fruit. And the way Jesus says this will happen is if the disciples “abide in him”. The same is true for us today, except we usually don’t take this command as seriously as we should.
Its in St Paul’s letter to the Galatians that he talks about reaping what you sow. A familiar text. What may be less familiar is the connection St Paul makes between that sowing and serving.