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This is going to be a short Scripture reflection but hopefully memorable

I just want to focus on one verse from the Ecclesiastes 7:2

          “It is better to go to a house of mourning

than to go to a house of feasting,

Because that is the end of every man,

And the living takes it to heart.”

Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament written by King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived.  He wrote much of the Book of Proverbs as well.  He had experimented in his youth with living life to the fullest.  Chasing after all kinds of pleasure: food, drink, women; trying to find the meaning of life in his riches or in his great accomplishments.  But he always came back to the same theme – You have heard what he wrote: “Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity.”  It is all Chasing after the Wind.

He knew that life was empty and meaningless and futile when viewed “under the sun” = without a personal relationship with God who alone can give meaning to our lives.  So in this short verse he gives us God’s perspective on dealing with our mortality.

Laughing and feasting provide a escape from the pressures of life but they do not prepare us for death. Something about contemplating death turns our thoughts towards the eternal rather than the temporal and makes us ask the tough questions. In our service today we want to briefly consider:

What are some of those tough questions?

Remember Solomon tells us it is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting. 

1)  Tough Question #1: What’s so valuable about coming face to face with death?

Somehow what we are experiencing together today, despite the mourning and the grief and the sorrow, is more valuable than times of feasting and happiness.  How can that be?  There’s an illustration in the Bible that I think provides the answer.  The Apostle Peter writes in his second epistle that people in our day will end up mocking the promise of Jesus that He is coming back to earth and will hold men accountable.  Where is the promise of His coming? People scoff.   We are just eating and drinking and having a grand old time.  We don’t have to answer to God.  But Peter points back to the days of Noah – just before God brought judgment via a worldwide flood – people were ignoring God in similar fashion.  Forcing us to face the reality of death in a service like this helps prevent God’s judgment from taking us by surprise.

2)  Tough Question #2: Why are we all headed for death anyway?

Death entered into this world back when sin entered into this world.  Death physically is the separation of the body from the spirit.  But even more importantly, death spiritually involves our separation from the God who created us who is perfectly holy.  We are all sinners.  That should be no surprise to anyone here.  I have been blessed already with 6 grandkids.  I love them to death.  But I’m not surprised to find that they all can be selfish and disobey their parents.  You have to teach kids to behave and share their toys; you don’t have to teach them how to sin.

So it’s no surprise that as adults we wrestle with selfishness, with pride, with various appetites of the flesh.  No matter how hard we try, we are not going to escape sin.

The wages of sin is death.  Wages are what you get for what you do.  [I’m retired now, so I don’t get any more financial wages. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything.]  After death comes the judgment where we stand accountable before God.  There is no escaping that accountability.

We can deny that reality.  We can hide behind a life of pleasure – of escapism – of trying to avoid the unpleasantness of death.  We can even try to stay young by watching our diet and exercising.  But we won’t escape death.

3)  Tough Question #3: How can we be prepared to face God?  How can we who are sinners end up spending eternity with a God who is holy?

Here’s where people have invented all types of humanistic and religious systems to attempt to erase their sins and wipe the slate clean.  They all center around some type of works approach to do enough good so that we can earn God’s favor.  But the truth is we can never be good enough.

It’s not about going to church.  It’s not about being baptized or confirmed.  It’s not about reading your Bible and praying.  Don’t get me wrong; those are good activities.  But they can’t save you.  What you need is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I like the illustration of swimming to Hawaii from the West Coast.  Let’s say God lined us all up on the beaches of Malibu.  The goal is to swim to Hawaii which represents salvation.  I’m not a great swimmer – I was terrified of the water as a kid. I still won’t dive and hate to put my head under the water.  I would make it past the breakers but probably soon panic and go under.  That’s not my type of test.  On the other hand, my son-in-law Adam is a fantastic swimmer.  He swam in college and still practices every week as an adult.  He loves those IronMan competitions.  He does a lot of open water competitive swims.  But trust me, he’s not making it to Hawaii.  That’s what it is like when we trust in our own righteousness and our own attempts to earn salvation.  We all end up failing the test.  It’s a pass/fail test – not graded on a curve.

Instead God has provided the solution for us in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.  As true God and yet fully human, the perfect God-Man has offered up Himself as the bridge to get us to God.  He fulfilled all righteousness by obeying God the Father in his 30 plus years here on earth.  We couldn’t fully obey, but He did.  He died in our place on the cross to suffer the wages for sin that we deserved.  He is our sacrificial lamb that was offered up once for all to satisfy God’s wrath.  He was raised up after 3 days in the grave so that He can offer us new life as the Resurrection and the Life.  And now He is at the right hand of God preparing a place for us so that He can come again and take us home to be with Him.  He offers Himself as the Way to God, the absolute Truth, and the essence of eternal Life.

The only way to be prepared to face God is to repent of our life of self-rule where we are the ultimate authority and instead put our faith for salvation fully in the person of Jesus Christ.

For by grace are you saved by faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God; not of works lest anyone should boast.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.

There are only 2 ultimate destinies – the difference is what we do about Jesus Christ.

It’s a simple solution but one that most people ignore or reject.  Our pride tempts us to think that there is something we can do to make God accept us.  Or maybe if somehow we just do the best we can, that will be enough.  But all we need to do is cast ourselves on the mercy of Jesus Christ.

Place our trust in Jesus Christ alone.

So to wrap things up,

How can we benefit from this time together this morning?

We need to take God’s perspective on mortality to heart!

Remember the verse we started with:

It is better to go to a house of mourning

than to go to a house of feasting,

Because that is the end of every man,

And the living takes it to heart.”

(Here’s your homework assignment — look this song up on YouTube and play it later today

Take some time to reflect on your own spiritual journey.)

Chasing of the WindWhy do we live without Jesus  – Steve Green

Every heart is filled with longing
To be free from all life’s pain
Yet the search through earthly pleasures
Always ends in vain
Only God who made the heavens
Can satisfy our souls.

Apart from Him and all His meaning
All things fail as they begin
And hearts deceived can only know
A chasing of the wind.

All achievements, all possessions
All with time return to dust
Only God can be our reason
For deep and quiet trust
He will guard us from the dangers
That gladly make men fools.

Apart from Him and all His meaning
All things fail as they begin
And hearts deceived can only know
A chasing of the wind
A chasing of the wind.

Why do we live without Jesus?
Why do we waste another day?
He is the life that sustains us
The only hope for us today
So tell me, why do we live
Why do we live without Him?