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How to Maximize Your Life

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2021 12:00 am

How to Maximize Your Life

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 19, 2021 12:00 am

To the young, Solomon pulls his chair up close and says, “Listen; this is God’s Word; this is God’s design; this is God’s protection. Put sin as far away from you as you can. I want you to enjoy your youth; I want you to make the most of it, but you’ve got to do it God’s way. God knows what’s best; God created you, and God wants you to enjoy the gift of life He’s given you. So: enjoy these early years thoroughly, invest these early years wisely, and guard these early years carefully.

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C.S. Lewis got it right when he wrote to a friend, even after living through World War II and losing his wife to cancer. He says this, It is the Christian's duty to be as happy as he can be. According to Solomon, he pulls up a chair, as it were, and delivers this most unusual advice to young people.

Listen, you're young. Everything's out in front of you. Don't wish these days were away. Enjoy where you are right now.

Begin now developing a thankful, joyful spirit with the life gift God has given you. Have you ever heard the accusation that Christians don't know how to have fun? There's a stereotype that believers walk around with sour expressions on their faces, hardly ever cracking a smile, and rarely laughing. Is that really true?

Or I guess a better question is, should that be true? Or does God want us to enjoy the life that he's given us? How can we make the most of our lives? Well, we're going to learn some tips today as we explore the wisdom of King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes.

This is Wisdom for the Heart, and Stephen Davey has a message for you called How to Maximize Your Life. The journalist put it well when he wrote, and I quote, Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened. Inside every old person is a young person who is wondering, maybe even saying out loud, wow, how did life go by so fast? What just happened? Everyone today I'm sure could chime in with your own personal unexpected events that occurred in life, maybe unexplainable things. Life is fast and it's filled with the unexpected and unexplainable. If you were with us in our last study, when we began Ecclesiastes chapter 11, Solomon essentially told us not to let the unexpected things in life paralyze us with fear, nor the unexplainable things in life rob us of joy.

And how did we do that? Well, at this point in his private journal, Solomon is in the process of clearly bringing God back into the scene down here under the sun. And that sense of security and that sense of joy can occur as we recognize that the unexpected is actually the expected from the perspective of God, planned by his sovereign will. And what is unexplainable to us is fully known by the wisdom of God. So he's pointing us, pointing us, pointing us to God. I appreciate the lyrics to that gospel song that has the walk of faith for a believer in mind and it has a wonderful perspective.

Some of the lyrics go like this, we see the present clearly, but he sees the first and last. And like a tapestry, he's weaving you and me to someday be like him. God is too wise to be mistaken. God is too good to be unkind. So when you don't understand, when you don't see his plan, when you can't trace his hand, trust his heart.

It's great. When you can't trace his hand, trust his heart. Well, Solomon is an old man now. And there's a sense of, you can almost feel him say, what happened?

What just happened? Like any older person, by the way, who brings God back into the scene, you want to pull up a chair, as it were, and sit down with a young person and say, now you need to listen to some things that I've learned and give advice. And that's what he's really going to do here in the text we're going to look at today. So if you have your Bibles, we're in Ecclesiastes 11. We're at the last two verses of this chapter where this father-son chat is going to take place.

I know he wants his son to read it, listen to it, hear it, but certainly this is God's word to us. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things, God will bring you into judgment. Remove vexation from your heart and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are fleeing away. This is an incredibly loaded conversation. Let me, for our study's sake, break it down, break God's advice through Solomon down into three statements. And the first one is really a little surprising.

Here it is. Enjoy your early years thoroughly. Verse 9 again, just the first part. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth. Let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Now you might notice that this command, rejoice, you might circle that word, trace it back up to the earlier verse because that's given to believers of all ages. Rejoice, he says in verse 8. But at this point, it's as if God wants to pin this advice on the lapels of every young person's heart. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth. Let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. You notice Solomon doesn't say here, listen, you're young, but don't forget one day you're going to be old. No, that's not what he says.

He doesn't throw that kind of cold water on their enthusiasm. He doesn't write here, you're young, but one day you're going to be old like me. He actually writes, you're young and enjoy it to the hilt. This text was kind of convicting to me as I read it because I guess I'm old enough, I thought about it, I'm kind of given that advice. You know, and I see, but look, before you know it these days, you're going to be over.

You're going to be over. Even to young parents, you know, before you know it, those kids are going to drive away. Well, how encouraging is that?

It doesn't help anybody. I can still remember, in fact, the moment I can still picture it in my mind, which is another sign of being old. You can remember something 30 years ago, but not three minutes ago. You're there.

But I can still remember that moment. Marsha had gotten the twins all bundled up and they were in the twin stroller, which was as long as a freight car, loaded down. We went to the mall, I guess for a little sanity. And I can remember her holding the door and I'm pushing that double stroller through and a woman stopped and looked at us and smiled, looked down at the stroller and asked me, are those twins? And I said, yeah, you want them? We'll pay you to potty train them, then give them back.

No, I didn't. She kind of laughed and then she said something that was really music to my wife's ears especially. She said, well, I have twins and it'll get easier.

That's actually encouraging. Don't, you know, survive, but survive and while you're doing it, know that it's going to get a little better, a little easier, but enjoy it. Enjoy where you are right now. By the way, this is especially wonderful advice for young people because what do they want? They want to get older. They want to get older.

Somewhere in life that reverses. But when you're young, you want to get older. I can't wait to get older. I can't wait to drive. I can't wait to go to college. I can't wait to graduate. I can't wait.

What just happened? Solomon wants to challenge, really there's a positive side of that, but a negative side, he wants to challenge the cultivation of discontent that can begin at a very young age. I don't like where I am right now. I can't wait to get older. That's really discontent and it shows up at a very young age.

I mean, I've seen it. My grandson turned six not too long ago and I could tell day afterward I saw him. He's already over it.

There's no thrill in it anymore. In fact, he told me I'm going to be seven. Just turned six. And then he said, no, no, I'm going to be eight. I can't wait.

I can't wait to get older. By the way, don't overlook the fact that rejoicing here is this command. It's a command which is another way of saying a discontented heart starts very young. Be careful.

Deal with it. In fact, throughout the scriptures, this appears. It made me think about the fact that its first appearance was back in the garden, a perfect paradise, a perfect world. Eve, you've got everything you want. Wouldn't you like something more?

Yeah, I think I would. That spirit of discontent, by the way, appears. We might chuckle. Hey, he's six.

He wants to be seven. Enjoy life now. Enjoy life. Cultivate this command of having a joyful spirit in life. Enjoying, rejoicing in where you are right now effectively does battle with the spirit of ingratitude.

The spirit that says I want something different. I don't want to be here. I want to be down there. I want to get a little further down the road. I'm 13. I want to be 15. I'm 15. I want to be 18. I'm 18.

I want to be 21. God has given us the gift of our individual lives. Solomon is reinforced in chapter 11, and there's a reason for it that we can easily overlook.

C.S. Lewis got it right when he wrote to a friend even after living through World War II and losing his wife to cancer. He says this, it is the Christian's duty to be as happy as he can be. That's really different advice. But it's true. It's why rejoice is a command. When's the best time to start practicing the obedience of a joyful spirit according to Solomon when you're young? He pulls up a chair, as it were, and delivers this most unusual advice to young people.

Listen, you're young. Everything's out in front of you. Don't wish these days were away. Enjoy where you are right now. Begin now developing a thankful, joyful spirit with the life gift God has given you.

How do you do that? Well, start small and work up. Find something that you can thank God for. Make Thanksgiving a daily practice.

Ask God for eyes to see those gifts, great and small, whatever they may be. And don't wait to get older before you start. By the way, everybody in the auditorium today is in their youth. You're younger today than you'll be tomorrow.

This is the youngest day of your life so far, or I guess I should say in terms of the future. So spend it wisely. Secondly, he gives another piece of advice here, and it's this. Spend your early years wisely. Look at the next phrase in verse 9. Look in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes.

You could literally translate this. Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. And you're probably thinking when I thought the first time I saw that, what kind of advice is that to give to a young person? Are you kidding? You don't tell a young person to follow the impulses of their heart? I mean, you're trying to corral that stuff. This is like giving a 16-year-old the keys to a sports car and hoping they'll drive under the speed limit.

It's not going to happen. You don't tell young people to follow their dreams, to follow their creative thoughts. That's exactly what Solomon writes. Solomon looks at a young person and says, what is it in life that really gets you excited about life? What do you see that you want to go after? What are you interested in doing with your life?

What is it that you'd really like to pursue? Now, here's the qualifier. Notice the last part of the verse. But know that for all these things, God will bring you into judgment. In other words, just make sure that whatever it is you're going after, God would be pleased if you caught it, if you found it, if you did it. But don't misunderstand.

This is not a negative wet blanket. This idea of judgment is not to be understood in this context as some kind of damper. As if Solomon is saying, yeah, enjoy your life. Just remember, one day you're going to get hauled into court. God's going to judge you. No, that's not the spirit of the phrase. Solomon is simply reminding young people that freedom has a fence, that privileges come with responsibilities, that liberty has accountability.

Don't forget that. He reminds the youth that their ultimate accountability is this coming day when they'll stand before their Creator. God, so with that then, there's this idea of I'm going to pursue life because I want to invest these early years wisely, which is another way of saying don't waste these early years.

Don't waste your life. One author writes that as a boy, he used to hear illustrations from his preacher father. When he preached, he wrote that one of his father's most gripping illustrations was a man the church had prayed for for many decades, a little church where he pastored. This older man was resistant to the gospel, had a hard heart and a hard demeanor. He writes, but one day, for some reason, this man showed up on a Sunday. My father was preaching. At the end of the service, everybody's amazement, he came and took my father's hand and they sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the gospel of Christ.

He was saved from his sins, given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying as the tears ran down his wrinkled face. What an impact it made on me to hear my father repeat what this man said through his own tears. I've wasted it.

I've wasted it. This author writes, this gripped me more than the stories of young people who died in car wrecks before they were born again. This story of an old man weeping that he'd wasted his life, awakened in me a fear and a passion not to waste mine. Sounds like Solomon here in the closing portion of his private journal. There's one more point to make to the youth of every generation. I believe in the providence of God.

This is exactly what he wants you to hear today. Enjoy your early years thoroughly. Test your early years wisely. Now thirdly, guard your early years carefully.

Look at verse 10. Remove vexation from your heart. The word vexation, by the way, combines two ideas, anger and resentment. When anger and resentment coexist in a young person's heart, you end up with rebellion.

Put away anger, put away resentment, and you will be putting away a rebellious spirit. Young people struggle with this early on because life seems to get in the way, and older people seem to get in the way. Parents, teachers, coaches, they're chasing down life and something gets in the way. Anger and resentment can build. Solomon is effectively saying here you better learn how to deal with this early in life because you're going to find out through life, no matter how old you are, that something or somebody is going to get in your way of you pursuing what you think you want in life. It might be an illness.

It might be a financial disaster. It might be a co-worker who beats you to that promotion. It could be anything, but something's always going to be in the way, so to speak, of your happiness that you can use as your excuse. Learn to resist anger and resentment from growing in your heart. Now notice the next part of this command in verse 10. Remove vexation from your heart and put away pain from your body for youth and the dawn of life. You can translate that the prime of life or fleeting, vanity, passing away. Youth and dawn, the dawn of life are fleeting.

This expression comes from a word that literally means black, the dawn of life. Youth and blackness are fleeting, typically used to refer to a full head of black hair as opposed to the gray hair of age. Solomon's writing here, you could render it this way, youth and that black head of hair of yours is fleeting.

That black hair is going to turn gray or it's going to turn loose, one of those. So during the days of youth and that expression, vitality, Solomon writes here, did you notice, put away pain from your body. What's he saying? Go out, wear your helmet and elbow pads and no, the word pain refers to evil, sin. And in the context of its relationship to the body, he's specifically referring to the sins of the flesh, immorality. Solomon is referring here candidly to sexual sin that brings danger, pain as a consequence to the body. I can tell you young people, one of the tragic failures of the older generation in our culture you're growing up under is that it is approving and applauding and endorsing and promoting and selling sexual promiscuity to young people as if it will not bring pain and danger and regret. In fact, one of the blights on our generation as a culture is that we have taken the word safe and attached it to the word sex.

And that relates to any sexual relations outside of marriage is what they're talking about. There is no such thing as safe sin. Sin is never safe. Sin always has consequences.

It'd be like going to the beach where sharks have been sighted and hammering up a sign that says, safe swimming. Solomon, I find it interesting, will write more about sexual sin than just about any other topic he ought to know because he wasted his life in it. Now he's an old man and he's essentially saying it's going to bring you a lot of pain, a lot of regret. He writes to the young man in Proverbs 5 as an illustration of the danger of sexual promiscuity and he writes in verse 11 that at the end of your life you're going to groan when your flesh and your body are consumed.

That's to be understood literally. This is a warning that's never going to make it into the movies. It's never going to make it in your textbooks.

It's never going to make it into commercials. Sexual activity is creating this tidal wave among our youth and our culture with its consequences that is for the most part the unspoken pandemic. Listen to the Center for Disease Control. Have you heard of the Center for Disease Control?

Wait, wait. Listen to a statistic you'll never see on the news and I quote, a new sexually transmitted disease or infection is diagnosed on average every 45 seconds. And in its wake are pain, blindness, arthritis, infertility, brain damage, heart disease, and death. In spite of 50 years of penicillin and wonder drugs, millions of people are contracting new generations of incurable sexually transmitted diseases every 45 seconds. Another author wrote that 300,000 people will contract hepatitis B every year globally. Can you imagine any disease spreading to 300,000 people a year and never hearing about it?

It's a virus primarily transmitted through sexual contact that causes permanent liver damage and death. The Center for Disease Control issued a statement in fact just 24 months ago and I quote, combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia reached an all-time high in the United States this year. There were more than 115,000 syphilis cases reported this year. Gonorrhea increased to more than 580,000 cases and chlamydia increased to more than 1.7 million cases.

In one year, to do the math, 2.4 million Americans contracted sexually transmitted diseases causing sickness, pain, contagion, and even death. And ladies and gentlemen, you've not seen one press conference. You've not heard one mandate. You've not heard one warning. You've not seen anything on television.

Isn't it obvious? Our world doesn't want to own up to anything related to God's design, the fence, the boundary, his protection. It doesn't want to hear any advice from Solomon or the church or God for that matter that would in any way restrict what they want to do with their bodies.

Solomon pulls up a chair and he looks every young person in the eye and he gives a warning that youth are not hearing today saying essentially this is God's word. This is God's design. This is God's protection.

Put this as far away from you as you can while you're young. I want you to enjoy your youth. I want you to make the most of it, but you've got to do it God's way. God knows what's best. God created you.

These diseases are warnings for you. Enjoy the gift of life he's given you. Enjoy these early years thoroughly.

Invest your early years wisely and guard your early years carefully. And let me say this again, no matter how old you are today, it's never too early to begin. That was a powerful lesson from God's word today, wasn't it? Enjoy this day thoroughly.

That's the time you have wisely and guard your life carefully. I'm glad you took the time to join us today here on Wisdom for the Heart. This is the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey.

I'm Scott Wiley. The sermon you heard today is called How to Maximize Your Life. It's message number 11 in a series entitled Pursuing Wisdom Under the Sun.

If you'd like to hear the full length message, this series is posted in the archives of our website. You can listen to Stephen's message, read along in his manuscript, or if you want, you can watch the video of Stephen teaching this message to the church he pastors. You'll find all of that at wisdomonline.org. Once again, it's wisdomonline.org and you can go there anytime. You can send us an email if you address it to info at wisdomonline.org.

Our phone number if we can help you today is 866-48-bible or 866-482-4253. Thanks for taking the time to join us today. Be with us next time for more wisdom for the heart. Be with us next time for more wisdom.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-30 12:42:18 / 2023-11-30 12:51:26 / 9

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