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Celebrate Life! (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
February 2, 2024 3:00 am

Celebrate Life! (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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February 2, 2024 3:00 am

Do you live out your faith in a way that makes an invisible God visible? Find out how that’s possible, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg continues a topical study on suffering—with a celebration of life!



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

Do you live out your faith in a way that makes the invisible God visible to a watching world? Today on Truth for Life, we'll find out how that's possible even in less than ideal circumstances. Alistair Begg is teaching from Ecclesiastes Chapter 11. If you want a heading for the whole chapter in two words with an exclamation mark, it is this, celebrate life.

Celebrate life. Verse 1 and the first of the three. Go for it. Verse 2, diversify. Verse 1, go for it. Verse 2, diversify. And then stick with it.

The qualifying line is this. Do not wait for ideal conditions. Do not wait for ideal conditions. Don't allow inevitability to paralyze you. Secondly, verse 4, don't allow uncertainty to paralyze you.

Isn't that what he's saying? Whoever watches the wind will not plant. Whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. Are you making the most of every opportunity? Ephesians 5 16. Making the most of every opportunity. Making—sounds like endeavor—the most—sounds like extent. Opportunity—sounds like things that come our way.

Making the most of every opportunity that is represented within the framework of this church here, in all that is represented for the chances of evangelism and edification, learning about the Bible, growing in Christ, and so on. Or have you gone through saying again, Well, you know, I think it's not an ideal time for me to get in that class. I think perhaps after the first quarter of the year, that'll be the time. It's not a good time for me to broach this subject with my boss. I mean, I think after the first six months, it's whatever it is.

And where are you? You're actually further behind than you were this time last year. You're waiting for ideal conditions. There are no ideal conditions. Don't allow inevitability to paralyze you. Don't allow uncertainty to paralyze you.

Few great enterprises have waited for ideal conditions. Don't get caught up in the maybes in the might of beans. Tackle what is. Grab what's in reach.

As Roosevelt—Theodore, that is—said, Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. Well, I can't do very much, and if I wasn't here, if I was there… And of course, so you do nothing. Verse 5. If verse 3 is about inevitability and verse 4 is about uncertainty, verse 5 is about mystery. You don't know the path of the wind or how the body's formed in a mother's womb.

You can't understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Okay, some things we will never fully comprehend, but we mustn't let them prevent us from getting on with life. Don't allow the unknown and the unknowable to paralyze you. You know enough to proceed.

Proceed! That's what you see. This is bad for some people's blood pressure, chapter 11.

Some of you are sitting, you're already holding onto your chair. You don't like this. Because it all seems so out there. And you have built your life in this structured little book that you keep with you. You've got it all written in. You know when you brush your teeth. You know where you put your brush. You know when you do this, and when you stand up, and when you sit down, and you've got it all tickety-tickety-tickety-tickety-tickety. You're driving everybody nuts, including yourself. It's time to let it go.

That's what he's saying. Life is passing by. This is not a dress rehearsal. This is it. This is the journey. You don't get a second go at this.

So do not wait for ideal conditions to go. Of course, the correlative statements, you have them reverberating in your head, and they need to be there. But I loved when I discovered that Catherine Bramwell Booth, who was the wife of the founder of the Salvation Army when she was interviewed on her birthday—her hundred-and-third birthday—by the BBC. One of the interviewers said to her, you know, Mrs. Booth, haven't you discovered in the course of your life that there are a lot of things that you just don't understand and you can't explain? She replied, There are mysteries that we will never know the answer to, but even so, you can enjoy life.

A hundred and three years old. Well, yes, there are mysteries, but even so, you can enjoy life. Not endure life. Enjoy life. Do you enjoy life? Tell your face about it.

Do you enjoy life? You see, I'm not sure that the message is out there in any realistic way amongst our pagan friends and neighbors that remotely would convince them that belief in the living God and in Christ to me is sent, that belief in this Christ actually causes an individual to celebrate life. And the invisible God is made visible in the lives of his children. Therefore, what kind of God does our society see when we apparently are just managing to get through, just trying to get by, just endeavoring to get it over with? You say, Well, that's interesting. I thought that Jesus had said something about I am come that you might have life and that you might have it in all of his fullness. Well, yes, he did, but we haven't done that chapter yet. We're not there yet.

Now, do you think I'm fabricating? Verse 8. Enjoy. Now, I don't like it when people and they bring me my salad, and they put it down, and they say, Enjoy.

I'm not even sure that it is a right use of English, but I'm using it anyway just to try and be nice. Enjoy. It really should be Enjoy it, I think, or Enjoy yourself. I'm not sure Enjoy can stand by itself. I should have found it out, but anyway, it doesn't matter.

Some English teacher will sort me out before the day is done. Enjoy, verse 8. Verse 7, look at it. Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. Light is sweet.

Of course it's sweet. You go to bed, and it's dark. It begins to get dark at five o'clock, quarter to five. How do you feel? You're like, Oh, man, you're already ticking it off for the change of the clock. You wish your life away.

Can you imagine if you lived in Alaska? But there's something about the light that is sweet that pleases the eyes to see the sun. Can you see the writer pour himself a coffee and singing along? I see skies of blue, red roses too. I see them blue for me and you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world!

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky! I see friends greeting friends, saying, How do you do? They're really saying, I love you! And I think to myself, What a wonderful world! Now, that's what the writer is saying.

This is wonderful! Enjoy it! But enjoy it in such a way that you understand that your enjoyment is not superficial.

It's realistic. Notice, it is not an unending enjoyment. That will be heaven, because our days on the earth are limited. That's the significance of the opening phrase of verse 8, However many years a man may live.

By themselves, temporal things can never satisfy us fully, because God has set eternity in our hearts. We need to be honest enough to admit, as verse 8b pronounces, that days of darkness still come o'er us, and sorrow's paths we oft may tread. That in the words of the hymn writer, I thank thee, too, that all my joy is touched with pain. One of my favorite verses out of a hymn. I thank thee, too, that all my joy is touched with pain, that shadows fall on brightest hours and thorns remain, so that earth's bliss—and there is a bliss in earth—so that earth's bliss may be my guide and not my chain. See, we're not chained here.

Our citizenship is somewhere else. The anticipation of all of that shines, as it were, down onto our earthly pilgrimage. Therefore, enjoy.

Verse 9. Be happy. Be happy. Who? Young man.

When? While you're a young man. What should I do? Let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.

Follow the ways of your heart, whatever your eyes see. What is he offering here? Well, he's offering a dimension of freedom that has a goal worth reaching, a freedom that has a well done for which to strive, a freedom that finds fulfillment within the framework of God's parameters.

Absent that, this kind of approach is swallowed up by triviality or, worse, by vice. And again, you have to read into chapter 12 to set in context an exhortation such as this. Be happy, young man, while you're young. Are you saying that to your sons, your grandsons? Son, I want you to be happy. You say, Well, that sounds like Norman Vincent Peale. It doesn't sound like the Bible.

What do you mean? Be happy. Don't worry. No, this is the Bible. Be happy. Do you remember we used to say in the 70s, Happiness is to know the Savior, live in a life that's in his favor. Happiness is, or whatever it is, happiness is the Lord.

Be happy. Of all people on the face of the earth, the believer ought to lead the world in the enjoyment of life and in the experience of happiness. The believer ought to enjoy art more than any other individual. The believer ought to enjoy a sunset better than anybody.

He ought to be able to enjoy a trip to the Cleveland Orchestra at a level that is distinct from anything anyone else can know, because they have discovered that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, that there is the good, the bad, the new, the perfect. And here in this continuum of life, they are acknowledging the wonder of what God has provided. Again, in the hymn writer, heaven above is soft or blue, and the earth around is sweet or green, and there's something lives in every hue that Christless eyes have never seen, and birds with gladder songs o'erflow, and earth with deeper beauty shine, since I know, as now I know, that I am his and he is mine. So different, isn't it, from Hamlet, who stands and says, you know, what a stale, flat promontory is this, you know? What used to me this life? What's the point, he says?

The believer says, Oh, well, there's every point. You're supposed to enjoy. You're supposed to be happy.

Verse 10. Relax. Relax.

Vanish anxiety from your heart. Look at who the advice is given to—to young people. You say, Oh, well, wait a minute. We don't need this one. I don't need to go home and tell my teenagers to relax. They have got—they already did a PhD in relaxing. We don't need to give them any more relax. We need to give them something else. Please, let's change your last point. It was pretty good up till now, but you've really lost it here.

Well, yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? It used to be that casual, when you were young, casual meant, Well, let's take my jacket off. I'll take my tie off and roll my sleeves up. But casual now, it takes your daughter an hour and a half to get casual. She has to go up for a very long time to get casual. No, no, casual is this. Oh, no, no, Dad, that's not casual. That's, like, retro-casual.

But casual is, you know, Hey, honey, relax, would you? Just relax. Talk with teens. They're stressed. Relationships, the devil them. Family life forsakes them.

Rootlessness consumes them. And suicide attracts them. And the Bible calls out to them, Listen, I don't want you to be careless, but I want you to be carefree. I'm not calling you to indifference.

I'm not calling you to irresponsibility. But I'm issuing a call when you're young. You won't always be young. So don't idolize being young. Don't dread not being young.

Just enjoy being young. If you dread its loss, it will spoil the experience. And if you try and perpetuate its experience, you will look like a clown. Therefore, leave your clown clothes at home. Get rid of the black leather vest.

You look weird in it. Enjoy, be happy, relax, in the final line. Don't forget you have finals.

Don't forget you have finals. Isn't that what we say to our children? Now, I know you're going out, and I hope you'll have a wonderful time. I want you to live within all the parameters that God has set. I want you to enjoy your friendships. I want to enjoy your leisure time. I want you to experience all of the opportunities that are unique to this period of life. This period of life will never come around again in this exact way.

You will never have this freedom. The companionship appears in this way. It all changes. It doesn't necessarily get worse, but it definitely changes. You can no longer go out with the boys in the same way. You can never go out with a crowd of girls in the same way.

Eventually, everything takes on a different complexion. Therefore, I want you to go out, and I want you to have a fantastic time. But don't forget you've got finals. You've got finals. Verse 9, God will bring you to judgment.

A judgment that is absolutely factual, absolutely fair, absolutely final. So, cast off the troubles of your body. Verse 10, cast off the troubles of your body. The Authorized Version translates it, put away evil from your flesh. Put away evil from your flesh. Sin is foolishness. It's disobedience, too, and rebellion against the one who has made us, who loves us, who sustains us, and who will finally assess us.

Now, notice, in conclusion, that this positive approach to life is resting on something far more substantial than cheerfulness or courage or even sound morality. Fear God and keep his commandments. But I try to keep his commandments. I try to fulfill my duty, and I realize that I have broken his commandments. Therefore, I have a predicament. How, then, am I to meet God on that final day of assessment? Well, the answer is that God has come and has met with us in the person of Christ, and that he has kept the law perfectly, and he has borne the punishment finally, so that we then may find in him the life that is really life. So much of this is addressed to youth, and the bridge is addressed to youth. We have, in the last decade, lost young people from our church.

One of them, some of you, will remember. From his journal, as a young man just in his late teens, he had written, I would rather die living than to live dying. And as you know, of course, he fell to his death in an amusement park owned by members of his family, his girlfriend surviving. When his friends at Hudson High decided to take a phrase that would summarize his life, they took it from the Dave Matthews Band, and their phrase for Ryan was, Life is short, but sweet for certain. For Ryan, life was short. Real short. Real sweet. Why?

Because actually, he took hold of the exhortations here. Are you enjoying yourself? Does anybody that knows you and cares about you think for a nanosecond that they're on an adventure with you? Does the watching world have any interest in finding out what makes me tick because of the vibrancy of life and reality and enjoyment and initiative and enterprise that pervades my existence?

Do I qualify to be alive, or as the limit of my senses, so as only to survive? Hey, celebrate life! Le Chaim! Mazel tov!

Slange avar! This is the Bible. That's Alistair Begg encouraging us to celebrate life today on Truth for Life.

He returns shortly to close today's program. Our passion here at Truth for Life is to teach the Bible because we understand that Christian joy comes from an understanding of all that God has done and promises to do for us. We know God works through his word to convert unbelievers, to strengthen believers, and to establish local churches, and so we're motivated to reach as many people as possible all around the world. And it's exciting for me to tell you that last year we delivered Bible teaching to more than 30,000 new people from 222 countries outside the U.S. These are people who were unfamiliar with the ministry and now they're benefiting from it. They've responded to our invitation to download free teaching from Truth for Life, including sermons, series, ebooks, audiobooks from Alistair.

Many have even subscribed to our multi-day devotional reading plans. We're even more encouraged to see that 10,000 of these folks came back and requested additional resources. So let me say a word of heartfelt thanks to those of you who support this ministry financially and prayerfully. Your support is what makes this global outreach possible. From the emails we've received from people in many of these 222 countries I can assure you they are extremely grateful.

Many of them do not have access to clear relevant Bible teaching where they live. They are so thankful for how your support has made all of this available to them through Truth for Life. We want to encourage you to donate today and when you do ask for your copy of a children's book about Helen Roseveare titled The Doctor Who Kept Going No Matter What. The book is our way of thanking you for supporting the teaching ministry of Truth for Life. If you're not familiar with Helen Roseveare, she was a medical missionary who served God in the Congo in the 1950s and 60s. Her biography teaches young children what it looks like to trust God in any circumstance.

Ask for your copy of the book when you give a donation through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair with a closing prayer. Father forgive us that we are such miserable representatives of the vitality that we proclaim in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our faces all buttoned up, our lives all sequestered away, all of our investments strangling us, reading the columns in the paper, worried that it won't be there, challenged left, right, and center, unwilling to launch out into the deep and hear this great cry from your Word. Come on, go for it. Diversify. Stick with it. Enjoy. Be happy.

Relax. Don't allow inevitability to paralyze you, uncertainty to defeat you, mystery to preclude your involvement in your advance. Stir us up, O Lord, we pray, that we may lay hold upon life—the life that is really life—in the Lord Jesus Christ. And may his grace and mercy and peace shine upon our hearts and fill our homes. And stir us, Lord, we pray, to the great adventure that you have set before us all the days of our lives, and then to see you in heaven and to enjoy you forever. We bless you and we praise you in Christ's name. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for studying God's Word with us this week. I hope you have a great weekend and are able to worship with your local church family. Today we learned that as Christians we ought to be able to lead the world to enjoyment of life. On Monday we'll find out why we also ought to be able to show the world how to suffer. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 08:46:01 / 2024-02-10 08:54:29 / 8

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