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Living a God Life: Certain Uncertainties, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
March 18, 2024 10:00 am

Living a God Life: Certain Uncertainties, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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March 18, 2024 10:00 am

Life offers uncertainty. We cannot control or predict our circumstances.  Yes, much about life is unknown.  So where do we go for wisdom for how to think about and engage with life and its uncertainty?

 Many of the voices elevated in our culture appeal to our senses and desires, but offer foolish advice.  In this message from Ecclesiastes 9:11-18, pastor Rich reminds us that we must tune in to Jesus’ quiet words of wisdom, allowing His work on our behalf to guide our choices and attitudes.

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. We can all acknowledge that life offers uncertainty. We can't control or predict our circumstances.

Yes, much about life is unknown. So where do we go for wisdom, for how to think about and engage with life and its uncertainty? Many of the voices elevated in our culture appeal to our senses and desires, but offer foolish advice. In this message from Ecclesiastes 9, 11-18, Pastor Rich reminds us that we must tune in to Jesus' quiet words of wisdom, allowing His work on our behalf to guide our choices and attitudes. Making sense of the journey, Ecclesiastes. This is part 16, the last paragraph of Ecclesiastes chapter 9.

The title of today's message is Certain Uncertainties. Solomon begins in verse 11, again, I saw under the sun. And what he is in this paragraph is he is brutally honest with his observations of life. And it is very easy for us to become limited in our perspective, that we limit ourselves to an understanding of under the sun. But the truth is it becomes clear from Ecclesiastes that if there is under the sun, then there is beyond the sun. And he is constantly calling us back to the perspective from beyond the sun. What we have in this paragraph is if we're limited to under the sun, this is what it looks like. Humanity tends towards what is described in Romans 1, 28, and that is to not acknowledge God, which leads to a debased mind, a debased world view, and a debased attitude.

And Solomon is honest about that through this book and particularly in this paragraph. I want to talk about today with the title Certain Uncertainties, I want to talk about two things that you cannot count on to make sense of life. There are things that we tend to count on, one intentionally a little more than the other, but these are two things that you cannot count on in order to make sense of life.

Number one is calculations. And we all make those, don't we? We all make calculations of life.

We have a plan. And a calculation says if I do these things, then this is what I will get out of life. If I follow these rules, if I get this education, if I work this job, and if I work this job for this many years, and if I marry this person, then in the end my life will be pretty good. And we all tend towards that, don't we?

It's kind of natural to do that. And we tend to calculate life's outcomes. But look what he says again in verse 11. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge. But time and chance happen to them all, for man does not know his time.

And then he continues saying like a fish that are taken in an evil net and like birds that are caught in a snare. So the children of men are snared in an evil time when it suddenly falls upon them. We do tend to calculate life's outcomes.

Let me challenge you with this. Be thoughtful about what you think you deserve out of life. Be thoughtful about that. Be careful about that. Is what you get in this life, do you view that as your chief good?

That's a question that you need to answer. Because he says in this verse here, time and chance happen to all. That is such a secular world view, isn't it? Time and chance happen to all. This word chance is used in 1 Kings 5.14 as misfortune. It is a sudden random occurrence. What it seems to us as a sudden random occurrence.

Richard Dawkins, an atheist, an outspoken one, would say this is what he means by blind, pitiless indifference. That's what the universe is. Things happen. Stuff happens. And you know, when something happens, you just need to stop and say, plot twist. Some of you have had those, haven't you? Some of you have had pretty significant plot twists in your life. The death of a loved one, a sickness. Or being impacted by the extremely self-centered behavior of another individual close to you.

Those are plot twists, aren't they? And it's easy to think, what did I do to deserve this? Or where is this going?

God, what are you doing? I will never forget so many times, as in my role, I'm in the hospital a lot. And there have been numerous times when I'm in the hospital and there lies somebody who just died. And this has happened numerous times in the last several years. And the last I saw that person, they were alive and well. And here they are. And I'm thinking, did this really just happen?

It happens, doesn't it? And if we think that somehow our calculations and what I expected that I would deserve out of life has been cut short, then I could tend to be not only surprised, but bitter. You see, what Solomon makes clear in verses 11 and 12 is that life is not a formula.

Life is not a formula. This is God's creation. We are a part of His creation. He has invited us to be a part of His creation. It is His purpose and His purpose will be accomplished. In everything that happens in His universe, He weaves together into His grand big picture. So this is why we need to reroute our thinking, because we tend to, we tend, and particularly in our Western culture, which is a very logic, rational driven culture.

Maybe. I think we're kind of drifting from that. But still, we tend to calculate our lives, don't we? If I do this, this and this and this, then this is what I'm going to get out of life. You can't count on that. Is it okay to plan?

Yes, it's okay to plan. But let's refocus for a moment here, okay? We need to understand that what Solomon says in verses 11 and 12 is true. Things happen.

And I can't count on my calculations for how life is going to turn out. A plot twist will happen. What is the context? Life is in God's hands and He is the one, as Solomon says back in verse chapter 3, that He has made everything beautiful in its time. And that word beautiful, the nuance there, that it's fitting.

He has fit everything together in its right place in its time. Now James, you remember James 4, makes this very clear. Come now you who say today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. That's what Solomon says here.

Man knows not his time. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Where do you think James got that information? I think he read Ecclesiastes.

Your life is a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. If the Lord wills.

Do you see the difference there? It's okay to plan. Making plans is a part of your good stewardship in life. So make those. But listen, you can't count on those plans.

They are not a given. Remember that. This is God's universe. And because of man's sin, it is a fallen, broken universe. We have to remember that.

You can't count on your plans, let alone the outcomes. And sometimes when we can say, you know, I don't see God's plan, you just need to trust His heart because God is good. If you ever start wondering about that, then what you need to direct your focus is right back to the cross of Jesus Christ. God is good. And His goodness does not depend on the pleasantness of your circumstances.

God is good. We tend to be striving for that calculated outcome that we call success. And the problem is that we have misdefined success.

We define success by God's gifts instead of defining success by God Himself. So my challenge for you today is, instead of counting on calculations and striving for that calculated outcome to be able to say you have lived successfully, here's my challenge to you today in the refocus. Be successful today.

Now, for those of you who are new or visiting, you're saying, Rich, what do you mean by that? There is a necessary definition here. Be successful today, meaning do today what you were designed to do.

And what is that? But to know God and to walk with Him. Be successful today. Success is rightly defined as realized purpose or functioning according to design. You need to know why you were designed and why you were here, and that is to know God and enjoy Him.

You were designed for that. So be successful today. Yes, be a good steward of God's gifts, your intellect, your resources, your ambitions, your relationships. All of those are God's gifts and be a good steward of them.

But you cannot count on your calculations for life to turn out the way you think it ought to. Thanks for joining us here at Delight in Grace. You've been listening to Rich Powell, the lead pastor at Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. The Delight in Grace mission is to help you know that God designed you to realize your highest good and your deepest satisfaction in Him. The one who is infinitely good. We hope you'll join us again on weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-18 12:22:53 / 2024-03-18 12:27:09 / 4

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