#7 (The “Remember” Series)
“REMEMBER YOUR CREATOR IN THE DAYS OF YOUR YOUTH!”
TEXT: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8, 13
INTRO: Have you ever known someone who is always late for everything? They are always in a rush just to catch up because they are always late. At times, this kind of habit can be costly, they miss out on important things or information because of a late arrival. How much better to be on time and start early, this is precisely the idea behind this passage.
ILLUS: LIKE THE MAN WHO CAME RUSHING UP TO A FERRY HE NEEDED TO CATCH TO GET ACROSS A LAKE, HE ARRIVED BREATHLESS AFTER RUNNING FULL STEAM TO GET THERE, BUT THE GATEMAN SHUT THE DOOR IN HIS FACE, HE JUST MISSED THE BOAT! A BYSTANDER REMARKED TO HIM, “I GUESS YOU DIDN’T RUN FAST ENOUGH!” THE DISAPPOINTED MAN ANSWERED, “I RAN FAST ENOUGH, BUT I DIDN’T START ON TIME.” TO ACCOMPLISH THE MOST FOR GOD IN A LIFETIME YOU MUST START EARLY ...“IN THE DAYS OF YOUR YOUTH” Ecc. 12:1 – SOURCE UNKNOWN
Statistically we know that the longer a person goes without accepting Christ the less likely they are to find Him ... the patterns of our life are set down in our youth. How important it is then to remember God in our youth!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us the importance of knowing God in our youth, this sets patterns in our life that will help us through the rough points in life as well as giving us the opportunity to be the most productive for His kingdom.
I. FOUNDATION SET! 12:1
A. Patterns 12:la
1. The author (probably Solomon) recognized how important it was to know the Lord as a young person, he is writing here at the end of his life.
a. The significance of this principle is born out by modern studies which show that with increasing age there is even less of a chance of someone coming to Christ.
b. The percentages for a born again experience decrease with age.
2. The reason for this is obvious; we establish “patterns” in our youth that carry through the rest of our lives, patterns change later with great difficulty.
a. This is why it is so critical that we teach our youth about the Lord, both by word and by example.
b. We are helping to set the foundation for their lives; it is a big head start for them when they have been raised to know the Lord.
3. This is precisely the meaning of one of Solomon’s other statements: “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Prov. 22:6
a. Establishing in them a pattern of righteousness will help them return even if they go through a rebellious stage.
b. It is hard to escape those patterns of youth, good or bad ones!
c. The rewards of walking with God from youth not only come to those who walked with God, but even to those who follow in their family!
GAITHER TELLS THE STORY OF HOW HE AND HIS WIFE GLORIA WERE ABLE TO PURCHASE A
PIECE OF LAND THEY DESIRED IN
4. Establishing these patterns before the demands of adulthood come helps to frame the way we will respond the rest of our life.
a. It is important to give attention to those spiritual dynamics early in life.
b. This builds the frame of reference that we will respond from.
B. Pressures! 12:lb
1. The author now explains the meaning of his command to remember God in youth, because tougher days will come that will be hard to deal with and only a frame of eternity can help us through those temporal sufferings!
a. Inevitably our frailties will show, not so much in youth, but later in life.
b. These “breakdowns” will make it difficult to appreciate life unless we have a larger frame of reference in which to place suffering, hence the importance of remembering the good days of youth and our Creator.
2. It is important for those coping mechanisms to be already in place before the tough times come, this is the author’s point.
a. The course of growing older includes greater pressures and less physical strength; therefore we need something in our inner man to carry us through.
b. Forewarning here is the point; take the time to be prepared spiritually when young!
ILLUS: LIKE THE
3. We have only one chance to be young, how critical for youth to recognize the importance of knowing God at this stage of their life, they will later look back and thank God for the knowledge of the Lord when young!
a. Remembering God while young will also help you fight against the temptations of youth and thus avoid consequences that can last a lifetime.
b. Many young people ruin their lives or complicate them later by ignoring God’s laws when young!
II. FRUSTRATING STRUGGLES 12:2-8
A. Physical 12:2-5
1. The author now launches into a vivid picture of diminishing capacities as we age!
a. Poor eyesight
c. Hearing problems
d. Sleep problems
e. Graying hair and decreasing muscle tone
f. Endurance decreasing
g. Greater effort at doing little things
2. This is the one positive thing about aging and spiritual life, while our physical capacities decrease with age our spiritual capacities can actually increase!
3. What we lose physically, we can gain spiritually!
4. This picture is not intended to discourage but to simply call attention to the importance of not neglecting God while young, when it is much easier to set a foundation of spiritual dynamics in our life.
a. As we age more of our attention gets diverted to burdens and needs, this is where that foundation really pays off, we have the strength to deal with them then!
b. Those who keep God in their youth never lose the inner strength, even when the outer strength is gone!
ILLUS: IN JUNE OF
1955 WINSTON CHURCHILL WAS NEARING HIS DEATH. HE WAS ASKED IF HE COULD GIVE ONE MORE
PUBLIC SPEECH TO A
5. You will need something to carry you through the years of decline, which will be the patterns you established in youth ... “remember your creator in the days of your youth!”
B. Perspective 12:6-8
1. Now the author adds, “Remember Him before the silver cord is severed.”
a. When death starts to close in, the most vivid memories that we keep are those of our youth!
b. The last things to leave us are our oldest memories, this demonstrates why it is therefore important to remember God while young; this will be some of the longest memories for us to hang on to!
c. While the elderly may sometimes forget the things of the recent past, they retain vivid memories of the distant past.
2. This provides then a shelter for older age, when death is not far away!
a. These memories of serving God in youth will bring a sense of joy and satisfaction even at a time when the physical decline would bring discouragement!
b. The ability to look back and feel good about your life is established by the patterns of our youth!
3. There will be nothing more satisfying in old age than to be able to look back and see the hand of God from your youth to your death!
a. This will help us put our life in perspective.
b. It will give great meaning and wealth to our life if we have walked with God through it all!
c. The lifetime of walking with God will enable us to be masters of our fate!
ILLUS: A WOMAN HAPPENED TO RUN INTO THE FAMOUS PAINTER PICASSO AT A RESTAURANT, AND SO BOLDLY SHE APPROACHED THE MASTER AND ASKED HIM IF HE WOULD PLEASE JUST SCRIBBLE SOMETHING ON HER NAPKIN, SAYING SHE WOULD BE HAPPY TO PAY HIM WHATEVER HE FELT THE QUICK DRAWING WOULD BE WORTH. PICASSO TOOK HER NAPKIN AND DREW SOMETHING AND HANDED IT TO HER ADDING, “THAT MY FINE LADY WILL BE $10,000 DOLLARS!” THE STUNNED WOMAN THEN SAID, “BUT YOU DID THAT DRAWING IN BARELY 30 SECONDS!” PICASSO ANSWERED, “NO, IT HAS TAKEN ME 4O YEARS TO DO THAT!” – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. The seeming “easy” faith of those who are older did not come so easy, it was the lifetime discipline of serving God from their youth onward, their faith may appear to come easy only because it has been practiced so long. The foundation of youth was established on God!
a. Those who grow up without God get more and more despondent as they age, for all they know is loss and the soon approaching death, life loses meaning for them as they age, they dread time as it marches on!
b. But for believers, we know that death is not the end, thus for those who have lived for God, they find meaning in old age, satisfaction that reward awaits them, they can look back satisfied, and not fear the future!
c. This is the perspective of those who remember God in their youth, and carry their faith throughout their life!
III. FAITH & SURVIVAL
A. Personal 12:13a
1. “Fear God” ... a personal call.
a. This kind of fear means “respect” or “honor!”
b. The bottom line to the whole book of Ecclesiastes is found in this verse, a call to personalize our relationship with the Creator God!
2. To “fear God” in such a way that you are too afraid to let go of the Lord!
a. It may be hard to serve the Lord but have you ever considered the alternative? It is much harder not too!
b. God offers us safety for our soul; the alternative is to lose that soul!
c. “Hanging on” is not a bad option, “letting go” of God may prove to be more dangerous!
ILLUS: LIKE A MAN
NAMED HENRY DEMPSEY WHO WAS TAKING A COMMUTER FLIGHT FROM
3. It is better to fear God more than fearing this world!
B. Plan 12:13b
1. “...keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
a. This is the bottom line to all of the arguments presented throughout the book of Ecclesiastes!
b. This again points back to verse 1: “Remember your creator in the days of your youth” ... those who do will obey God’s commands all their lives!
2. What we lay down as our foundation for life in our youth is what will drive us throughout our lifetime!
3. Those who remember God in their youth are likely to make His commandments their rule for living!
a. This will bring a harvest of spiritual fruit and thus satisfaction in old age.
b. This will enable us to handle life from an eternal perspective which is a much broader frame of mind than just the here and now!
4. Our plans will be built on whatever foundation we set in youth, remembering our Creator God will ensure that our plans include Him throughout our life, and His commands.
a. It is our duty to obey God’s ways if we want the best here and now, as well as then!
b. If you have forgotten your creator in your youth you are not likely to remember Him in your old age. It is never too late however, just tear down the bad foundation and start building the right one now, it is never too late, but how much better to do this in youth!
CONCLUSION: Every house has a foundation, without one it could not be stable or stay standing for long. It will have to stand against storms, earthquakes, weathering. Etc. The better the foundation, the more durable the house, the same is true in life, if we establish an early foundation based on a relationship with God we will more easily endure the storms of life. The patterns of our life are set in youth, so set them in Christ! This is what it means to “REMEMBER YOUR CREATOR IN THE DAYS OF YOUR YOUTH!”