25/10/2020「Sunday Message」 www.lifechurchmissions.com
How to live the "borrowed" life? <Ecc 11:7 - 12:1-2, 7-8, 13-14; 1Co 6:19-20; Gal 2:20; Php 1:21-25>
Prelude: Have you ever carefully reflected on why God still allows us to live in this world? Many times, we are so preoccupied by many things in life, the pursuits and voices of the world, such that we do not pause to think about what is the most important thing, what our priorities and pursuits in life should be. Perhaps many people, including Christians idealise, as long as they have a good job in this life, a happy and complete family, lovely children, some money to spend when we grow old, can travel to different places to enjoy a leisure life, then they can be very happy. Often, it is only when one is sick that one will question God why He allowed the sickness, or why they are not healed. But how many people have asked, "Why does God give me vitality and health?" If we have never reflected on this question, how can we be good stewards of the life and health God has given us? Generally, people in the world want to continue to live on and be healthy because they think longevity is a blessing, and the reason they want to live longer is usually self-centered. They want to have more time and energy to do the things they want to do. But what we Christians should ask is, why does God give us breath, health, strength, and time today? In fact, no matter how old or healthy we are, as long as God still gives us the breath of life and a trace of strength, there must be God's honourable purpose.
1. Do not remember the Creator Lord only when old and troubled <Ecc 11:7-12:1-2, 7-8, 13-14>
1）Must remember your Creator
The enemy Satan will always instill in us a kind of thinking: we must enjoy life and work hard when we are young, and think only about God, religion and after death matters when we are old. But the Bible is just the opposite. The Bible tells us: Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Even till old age, we should keep remembering God. This is the mentality of the most blessed person. If a person is healthy, exuberant, successful, and happy, but he does not remember in his heart, the Lord who created him, he is actually more woeful than a person who lives a harder life or has a sickness but remembers God.
2) Do not wait until the days of trouble, when you will say, “I find no pleasure"
"Trouble": Misfortune. Here, "trouble" is related to aging. By then, people may lose their passion with many things. Some people may say, "Now it is the time for me to work hard, it is the most critical period for pursuing promotion, saving money, establishing a family, and raising children well. There are many things I have to do. I don’t have time to remember God, serve Him, get to know Him, and think seriously about how to live for Him. Actually, they did not realize that precisely because it is a critical period, all the more they need to involve God to guide and help them teach their children, manage their marriage, and lay a solid foundation for their careers. In the process, they can also accumulate many testimonies that can glorify God. However, they often think they can wait for a few more years, and only think about God when everything is stable and settled. In fact, when these people are really settled in their career, family, and children, they may not come close to God. But, if God is real and loves us, isn’t this God worthy to be the object we serve and follow when we are still strong and energetic? Why wait until we have no energy before we follow the Lord seriously?
3）Therefore, in the days of your youth, fear God as it is the duty of all mankind
The Bible motivates us to do so with two main reasons: (1) Everything is meaningless; (2) God will bring into judgment. Indeed, being young has its advantages. When we are young, we are more daring to try to take a step of faith to follow the Lord, and we are relatively simple and humble to accept God's teachings. Moreover, when we are younger, we are free from sickness and pain, and healthy, our heart and spirit are more peaceful, our minds are clearer, and our physical strength is more abundant. In this way, we can concentrate on reading God's words, praying, serving God, caring and shepherding people. When we do God's work, we will not have any worries. Therefore, youth and health are opportunities God gives us to glorify Him, serve Him, and participate in His kingdom. This is not to say that people who are old or sick cannot be used by God, but that people who are young and healthy have no excuse not to live for God.
But <Ecclesiastes> also warns us not to "let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth, follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see" without restraint with the vitality and strength given by God. In the end, it will only bring temporary and meaningless satisfaction. God gives us vitality for His purpose and perfect will. If we abuse it, we must be accountable to God. Moreover, to fear God "in the days of your youth" requires a spiritual battle. Although it is the best time to serve God when we have the most energy, it is also the time when the world demands the most from us. We have to meet the needs of work and the needs of our spouse. Younger children have to be nurtured. Parents who are getting older need more of our company and care. The church also keeps challenging us to serve the Lord. In addition to these responsibilities, there are also the temptations of the world that often attract us. Therefore, the period of youth and energy is also a period when we are particularly prone to forget the Lord. Therefore, although youth and vitality are favourable conditions, there are also potential temptations and challenges. Therefore, we must battle with our flesh, the disturbances of the world, and the works of the evil spirits.
4）Encouragement to brethren who have already past the stage of "youth"
Compared to eternity, no matter how old our senior brethren are, they are still considered too young. Therefore, it is not too late to start remembering the Lord who created you. As long as God gives you the breath of life and strength, even a little bit of strength can be used faithfully for the Lord. In the end, when God sees us, He does not see how much we can do, but how faithful we are. God also knows that people with weaker physical strength can naturally do less than those with vigour. But with the strength God gives us, we let as much of it be used by Him. Therefore, the elderly or brethren who are sick must not fall into a state of mind that they can do nothing and do not want to do anything. If God gives you a little strength today, it also has His divine purpose. Whether we are young or old, whenever we stop living for the Lord, that is also when we will be more afraid of death or disaster, or fall into self-pity, or we will be taken captive by the world and Satan. So, we have to guard our heart.
2. Our lives do not belong to us <1 Co 6:19-20; Ga 2:20>
When we talk about living for and serving the Lord, some people will be unwilling or resistant. They may wonder why they cannot do what they desire? Why do they have to give their time, energy and money to God? What about their own enjoyment, rest, hobbies and future? We are always focused on “mine, mine, mine”. But actually, there is a big misunderstanding, which is our assumption that these are ours. Actually they do not belong to us. They are what God lent us for this life, to accomplish His plans. Today, our lives, the air we breath, our health, wealth, capabilities and our opportunities, all come for God. The bible tells us, even “For it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” <De 8:18>; our tomorrow (time) and life are also in God’s hands <Jas 4:13-15>. Actually, we are doubly not worthy of God’s grace: (1) even if we have not sinned, God does not owe us anything, or is He obligated to give us anything; (2) furthermore, we have indeed sinned, departed from God, and do not have faith in God, therefore what we deserved is God’s wrath and punishment, but the loving God did not treat us badly, instead He provided for us. The bible reminds us repeatedly not to take our time and opportunities for granted. What we need to do is to not fall short of God’s grace, and not abuse and trample on God’s grace. Once we realise our lives don’t belong to ourselves, we will not struggle why we need to live for God.
3. So what should we do?
Hope God will convict you to be able to accept Jesus as your Saviour. When you still have the opportunity, breath and strength, come quickly to accept Him. Just like how <Ecclesiastes> reminded us to remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come. Actually, today as God “lends” you your breath, He is hoping that you can repent and be saved.
2) Believers <Php 1:121-25>
Even if we have accepted the Lord, we may stray and follow the world; we pursue what the people of the world pursue; we define success by what people of the world define as success. However, today, god wants us to live only for Him, to serve Him and accomplish His will. In simple terms, to live for God means: 1) Faithful to the commandment to spread the gospel; 2) Be good stewards of God’s gifts. In < Jn 9:4>, Jesus encouraged His disciples, “ As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” We do not have infinite opportunities and time. “As long as it is day”, whatever we do or not do will influence two lives: One is how we will account to God in the future; the other life is the one who could know the gospel through us. If we do not share the gospel, and one day, either we or the other person passed away, the chance is lost. Or, this “day” could refer to those who may live till a long age, but in his life, there is only just one opportunity, just in the period of time, he was able to come to church; or he experienced a one serious crisis or setback that he could humble himself, let go of himself, and admit that he needed the Lord; or in his life, he has only met just one true believer (that is you), but if we do not take opportunity to share the gospel, it will be too late. It is not to say we do not need to do other things, we still need to work, take care of families, engage people, but in doing all things, we put God at the centre of it all, so that we can rely on Him, experience Him, accumulate testimonies to glorify Him, and co-work with Him, to accomplish His plans to save souls.