The fear of God leads to joyful obedience (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Ecclesiastes 12:13

The Book of Ecclesiastes takes the reader for a ride. You might find yourself lost in all the loops. For this reason, the divinely inspired editor gives a summary statement at the end: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of humanity (Ecclesiastes 12:13).”

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The Word of God holds to the highest standards of form and content (Ecclesiastes 12:10-11)

Ecclesiastes 12:10-11

“The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth (Ecclesiastes 12:10).” What types of words do you seek out? The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes sought words that met the highest standards of both form and content.

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Cherish the givenness of things (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8)

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

The anthropologist Ernest Becker wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Denial of Death,” “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is the mainspring of human activity – activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying…that it is the final destiny.”

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Only One can fulfill your inbuilt longing for lasting significance (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

The pursuit of pleasure in our society has reached an Epicurean high. We endlessly grasp for those things that will give us a sense of inward tranquility and happiness. We have largely succeeded. We have more material goods and means of obtaining pleasure than most other countries in the world. So how come our gain largely has led to pain? Why do more people suffer from anxiety, loneliness, and discontentment than at almost any other time in our history? You can’t blame the pandemic. Statistics were already on the rise before that. The pandemic only exacerbated what were already upward trending problems.  

The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes exposed the myth that the pursuit of pleasure can fulfill our longing for lasting significance.

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A universe with God vs. one without (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11)

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” With these words the Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes begins his journey of exploring all that is done under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 13).

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Jesus came to set us free (Matthew 8:28-34)

Matthew 8:28-34

Jesus and his disciples encountered a severe case of demon possession on the other side of the sea of Galilee. No one could walk on the path because the demons possessing these two fellows would not let them.

The demons began to negotiate with Jesus, “What have you to do with us?” They know who he is, the “Son of God.” They want to know if Jesus has “come to torment” them “before the time.” They apparently know one day the Devil and all his minions, including them, will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). However, they apparently did not know there would be a gap of time between the Son of God’s inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the consummation of that Kingdom. They are perplexed why Jesus has arrived soo seemingly early.  

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Why we need to talk about the demonic (Ephesians 6:12)

Ephesians 6:12

I want to take a moment to talk about the demonic. That may not be a popular thing to do nowadays. Please do not think I lost it. In our day people feels uncomfortable talking about this, but we need to.

C.S. Lewis said in his preface to The Screwtape Letters: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

We need to have a balanced, healthy appreciation for the demonic. Let me offer a few reasons why I think this.

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With Jesus in the boat, even life’s storms drive us to deeper faith in him (Matthew 8:23-27)

Matthew 8:23-27

Jesus’ disciples heeded his call to go with him to the other side of the sea. They went with him to a place they did not want to go, a land of gentiles. This trip required a great sacrifice of both time and energy. Still, they heeded the call and went. Yet, instead of finding reward, they encountered hardship.

A great storm arose on the water that day, filling the ship with water that threatened to capsize their ship and take their lives. They put all their hopes in this man, and now they feared their hopes would be dashed to pieces with their ship and them in it.

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The path of discipleship can be steep (Matthew 8:21-22)

Matthew 8:21-22

A potential disciple responded to Jesus’ command to go to the other side of the sea by saying, “let me first go and bury my father (Matthew 8:21).” We might find ourselves shocked at Jesus’ rebuttal, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead (Matthew 8:22).”

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To be a disciple requires trusting Jesus more than your own abilities (Matthew 8:19-20)

Matthew 8:19-20

Scribes, in antiquity, functioned as the human copy machines of the ancient world. They copied manuscripts for distribution and posterity. By the time of Jesus, the function of the scribe had developed into a social institution. They no longer just copied manuscripts, they also lectured, taught, and consulted on aspects of Jewish law. They lived relatively comfortable lives in one of the upper echelons of Jewish society.

One of these scribes jumped at Jesus’ command to go with him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He said, “I will follow you wherever you go, teacher (Matthew 8:19).”

This scribe probably thought he was giving Jesus a compliment. As accomplished as this man had become, he told Jesus he was willing to lay all aside to follow him. We can only imagine his surprise, when Jesus responded not with gratitude but a hard line.

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