This journey we call life is full of twists and turns.
We are not guaranteed tomorrow but we have today. We have this moment right now that we are living in.
We have all heard phrases about life that, some, explicitly tell us to get to doing or get out of the way. While others are more subtle but say the same thing. Like “in the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
Each one conveys the same message but in different ways.
Solomon here uses the more subtle method and calls us to action in life.
Too often we take the condition we are in and say that we cannot live life as we once did. But this is not entirely true. Take for example this story about Ray Charles.
John Goldingay tells of “the first time [he] heard Ray Charles perform.” He goes on and tells of him “Having been blind for many years, he had to be guided toward the piano, but he needed much more help than his blindness alone would have required. He was a frail old man (he died two or three years later). But as soon as his fingers touched the keys he was full of life, and it became clear that there was a big disparity between the inner man and the outer man. It was a moment that made me aware of the way a person can be still thrillingly alive inside but fragile and ailing outwardly.” (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs for Everyone, Old Testament for Everyone, 217.)
Goldingay then speaks of how we may be the opposite with having good physical shape but a diminished mind by dementia or alzheimers.
Sometimes life can still be fully lived even in physical ailing and failing but sometimes it cannot be fully lived because of mental ailing and failing.
So, that is why I said we are not promised tomorrow but we have today. We have this moment right now. What are you going to do with the moment you have?
In the text of Ecclesiastes 11 we see Solomon tell us many important things. First lets read the text then we will examine each observation.
1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. 2 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. 3 If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. 4 He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. 5 As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. 6 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. 7 Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. 8 So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity. 9 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. 10 Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.Ecclesiastes 11 ESV
The first observation we see in the text encompasses the first six verses and has several sub observations attached.
What we see here is that…
Life Is An Adventure: Live By Faith (1-6)
Life is really an adventure isn’t it?
We are on a path into the unknown everyday.
We do not know if we will make it to work or make it home.
We do not know if we will make a profit or not.
We do not know if our kids will be safe or not.
But in all of these things we have faith each day because if we were always preoccupied with each of these we would never live.
Think about a time you roped a big cow, bull, or anything. Or think of a time you jumped from an airplane. Or think of a time you drove in a heavy downpour or icy conditions.
We had faith in many different things in each situation and fully believed we would be okay. We acted with faith and plunged into this adventure of life.
We must not allow the unknown to stop us and we can plunge forward when we have our faith in the one who controls the future.
When we do this we will move forward because…
Not Knowing the Future is Not an Excuse (1-2)
In these first two verses we see that we are to take a chance.
Cast your bread on the waters, divide a portion to seven or eight.
We are to move forward and trust the Lord, but with the concept of dividing into seven or eight portions we are to not put everything into one thing.
We take a risk by acting on something period, but God has given us a brain to not be foolish in our chances.
We trust Him completely but because He has given us a brain, we put our ventures into more than one thing because faith in God is not foolishness.
This first sub observation tells us we cannot be passive in life, we must take action and have faith in the Lord.
Like my dad used to tell me when I was a kid and very indecisive when working, he would tell me to make a decision and stick with it even if it is wrong but I had to do something.
This is what this section is saying. Do something and trust God.
It also tells us to give without expecting return.
The bread being cast out and after many days you will see it tells us that we do good and sometime in the future we will find the return.
This return if done for the glory of God and out of pure passion and love for others will be found in our rewards from the Lord.
But we must act and…
Don’t Let the Past Control Your Future (3-4)
By comparing two different things, one changeable and one unchangeable-the fallen tree, Solomon tells us that the future moves but the past is permanent.
If we always look at the changing future from the perspective of the known past, we will never act.
If we are always waiting for the perfect time to sow, we will never sow but stand and stare blankly into the sky and be known as a fool.
Many here have sold cattle when the market was bad and the next week it went up. If you always put off selling cattle because of that past experience hoping the market will increase, you will never sale because the next week may be better.
What Solomon is telling us here is to stop making excuses and do something. But don’t just do it foolishly but act on faith with the wisdom the Lord has given you.
Because We Don’t Have Full Understanding We Use Each Day Wisely (5-6)
We must act on faith in life a lot because we do not have a full understanding of everything.
If we wait until we know everything we will die because we will never know everything.
We do not have control of anything in this world if you want to know the truth.
We know many things about the development and growth of an infant but we do not know when the spirit is introduced or how exactly. We just know that the child from the beginning of the pregnancy is a human being with potential and that is good enough because they are an image bearer of God.
But we do not know all about the human body or its development because there are still illnesses that confound medical professionals today.
So as verse six tells us, we are to sow seed in the morning and in the evening because we do not know which one may produce.
We are to do much daily because one or both may prosper.
This is true in work as well as in life with your family and in your faith.
We love our family and love others all day long because we do not know what will be the area that wins them to Christ.
By being loving and considerate to your family all day long and to others we show we are not selfish and truly concerned about them as Christ was of all of us.
When we live this way, we will see things happen that we never knew possible just like one or all the crops sown will prosper, so will our faithful living bring prosperity to those we love.
But these are not the only reasons why we live a life without excuses.
No we live an excuse free life because…
Life Is A Gift: Enjoy It (7-10)
In these last few verses we see that God not only wants us to live a life of faith and trust in Him but also one of joy.
Life in all of the tragedy and pain is sweet and to be accepted joyfully.
It is because we have life, remember a living dog is better than a dead lion.
Having life to enjoy in spite of the hardships is a blessing and something to enjoy.
Why be bitter if you live your life committed to the Lord in faith?
There is no reason to be bitter at all even in horrible tragedy.
We can live life with joy. We can…
Live in Light of Death that comes to All (7-9a)
Light is sweet, rejoice in the many years of your life if you have lived many, rejoice in your life now youths let your heart be cheerful in all of your days.
These are all exhortations to live a life of joy, even though as verse 8 tells us that the darkness-death, will be many, enjoy what you have now because just like the tree that fell is lying where it fell, time wasted with worry, complaint, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, hate, jealousy, or arrogance is life that was wasted and left to lie where it fell rather than life that is fully lived and embraced as the gift it is.
Nikki and I watch a lot of crime tv, shows about murder mysteries and such. The other day we watched one of a woman who was kidnapped with her 8-year-old daughter by a former student from 15 years previous.
She was chained up and raped and many other things, but she continued to pray and trust God to deliver them. One day the guy left to get money and then is when she acted. She had found a receipt with the address on it and she called the police and gave them the address.
She was rescued and the man is still in prison or dead now.
The people could not figure out how she was able to completely leave it behind her and live a full life of joy after that.
She did that because she was living life in the joy of the gift it is. She had experienced what was something horrific and that almost took that life but she saw that the gift was still hers and she lived it fully without letting that hold her back.
She lived life fully because she knew what death looked like and she knew God had blessed and graced her with life and she was not going to waste it.
She fully enjoyed life . She knew to…
Enjoy Life, But Know God Sees All (9b-10)
When we enjoy this amazing gift God has given us, we do not walk in sin to enjoy it.
9b through 10 tells us that what we do here will be judged because God sees it all.
We walk in the ways of joy that our heart and eyes lead us but only if those are in alignment with the Lord.
This includes leaving bitterness, worry, anger, frustration, jealousy, and all the other things already mentioned behind because those only bring grief.
That is what removing vexation from your heart and putting away pain from your body is about.
If we walk in sin and think it is bringing us joy, we are only fooling ourselves.
We bring vexation-affliction, and pain to ourselves.
What this means is that we are to leave behind the “sow your wild oats philosophy” and realize that when we do we only rob “joy of nothing but its hollowness.” (Kidner, A Time to Mourn, 99).
The sins of the flesh destroy the body.
When we take care of our minds we Rom. 12:2
are “not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
And then we make our bodies Rom. 12:1
“a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
The days of our youth go by fast. They move away like water vapor disappears. We will be old before we know it and what we did as a youth will be carried possibly painfully into then.
This is why we must build good habits young that will carry over into our older age.
When we do this we will live a life that shows that our years of youth was not vanity.
What you may ask are some of these habits?
These habits are some health and some faith building.
First, eat well and sleep well. Nourish your body correctly.
Just because you can eat anything and not gain weight does not mean you should. Also, just because you can make it on only four hours of sleep does not mean you should make it on that. Rest and nourish yourself correctly.
Second, be active. Do not be slothful and allow yourself to be lazy and inactive.
Third, study the word of God like it is about to be taken from you. Learn it, love it, and live it.
Practice what it tells you. Put into action your faith and watch God work. Trust God in all things. Rely on Him but do not be passive in life actively move with faith in God to provide.
Forth, release the past and give that to the Lord.
If we hold onto that we will never lay aside vexation and pain but cling to it like it is our comforter while we push our comforter and mediator away from us.
If we live our lives in these four applications then we will live a life without excuses and one that is full of joy because we are removing our foolish feelings from what we do not fully understand.
Get Joy and Peace
This comfort and peace is found only in Christ Jesus.
If you think you can live a life of joy and peace without the Lord, you are mistaken.
He made us and He knows us better than we know ourselves.
He knows exactly what will give you peace and joy in this harsh world.
If you try and deny Him you are only suppressing the truth. Paul wrote in Romans 1:20-23
20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.Romans 1:20–23 ESV
Simply, we all know there is a God and when we suppress Him we suppress the truth because we know the truth so stop suppressing the truth and let Him fill you and give you the comfort, peace, and wisdom we all need to make it through this life.
This is how you remove vexation and pain from yourself.
Will you today allow Jesus Christ to remove that vexation and pain?
I know there is someone here today that feels His draw and call on them do not fight that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved and you shall find joy and peace even among turmoil.
I know you are here and that you need Jesus do not fight Him anymore allow Him to save you He died for you and wants you to believe so believe today before the darkness falls on you and it is too late.