Presented, December 13, 2009 pm


                    The book of Ecclesiastes is a gem we need to read often.  It reminds us of the real purpose of life.  The book records Solomon’s quest to find the real meaning of life. He searched everywhere and left very few stones unturned.  His conclusion about this life – all is vanity.  But the ultimate conclusion is one of the best known passages in the Bible.  Solomon concludes by saying, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

                    Solomon’s conclusion is that if we want true meaning in this life we need to 1)Reverence God and 2) Obey Him by keeping all of His commandments.  The reason is given in vs. 14, because God will bring EVERY WORK into judgment, including every secret thing. The fact is, one day we are going to stand before God and give an answer for the way we have lived our lives.  This is something that many make light of. 

                    Tonight, we want to talk a little about the judgment, but what we want to emphasize is how every thing we do counts.  We live in a religious world where many want to skip the godly life and go straight to eternal life with no conditions attached.  They want to live however they want and still expect God to save them in the end (i.e. “Once saved, always saved” and its modified forms).  But we need to know that God will hold us accountable for the way we live our lives, even after we become Christians.  We need to know that EVERYTHING we do is seen by God and will be weighed when we stand before Him in the final judgment.  And it is NOT just the so-called “big things” but the “little things” as well. 

                    So tonight, I want to observe some things about the path we choose to take in this life.

 I.                  We are who we are as a result of the choices we make.

a.    Life is full of choices – the Bible continually speaks of the two paths we must choose.  They are the paths of good and evil.  They are described in different ways:

                                                   i.      Matthew 7:13-14, the broad way and the narrow way

                                                 ii.      Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

                                                iii.      Joshua 24:15 – “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

                                                iv.      Deuteronomy 30:15 – “I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgment, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.  But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish;  you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.”

                                                 v.      Romans 6:16-18 says, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

                                                vi.      All these passages speak of the two paths we face – good and evil.  We have to choose which path we will go down. 

b. We are continually choosing one path or the other

                                                   i.      In life, there is no such thing as standing still.  You are either moving forward or you are falling behind.  If you are “neutral” you are falling behind, because others are passing you up.  It is a principle emphasized in the business world.

                                                  ii.      That is true spiritually as well.  Everything we do throughout our lives is leading us down one path or the other.  Everything we do is either drawing us closer to God or farther away from Him.
That is something to think about. Every word we speak, every act we do, everywhere we go, and everything we choose NOT to do is determining the direction we are going.

                                                iii.      Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, “God will bring EVERY work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”

c.  The choices we make on a daily basis determine the direction we are going. 

                                                   i.      One of the reasons I am presenting this lesson is that I want us to think about how what we do today will have an impact on who we will become tomorrow.  It is rare that one makes a drastic change overnight, either good or bad. 
It is usually a product of a series of changes in one’s life.
 These changes can either be for the good or the bad. 
When King Saul began his reign, he was humble and feared God.  1 Sam. 11:12-13.  But in time, he began making choices that led him down the wrong path.  He would offer sacrifices he was not authorized to do (1 Sam. 13), then he would only partially obey God (1 Sam. 15), this led to him eventually becoming very evil.  Chances are his transformation from good to evil didn’t happen over night, but in time.
An addict doesn’t become one over night.  One doesn’t fall away over night (usually) – Heb. 2:1 says we drift away.
1 Peter 2:1 speaks of newborn babes desiring the pure milk of the word that we may grow thereby.

                                                 ii.      We need to think about the “little choices” we make on a daily basis.  It is the little things – our prayers, Bible study, words, acts of kindness, attitudes, thoughts, etc. that keep us moving in the right direction.  And our failures to complete keep us FROM moving forward.

                                                iii.      We sometimes get caught up in “the big picture” and start looking at the finish line.  What many are doing is looking for “the express lane” to get them there. 
 I become concerned when preachers dismiss ANY sins in our lives.  But we are seeing it with increased frequency.  Preachers who emphasize the hope without warning about the “straight and narrow way”.  While we ought to have an optimistic hope, we need to know that NO SINS will be acceptable to God.  We cannot yield, even for a moment!

                                                iv.      While we need to keep an eye on that goal (Heb. 12:1-2), we must never forget that to reach it, we have to keep moving forward!
The race analogy is used in several passages:
1 Cor. 9:24-27 reminds us that we are in a long distance race for the prize.  Even Paul realized he could lose the race, which is why he had to keep disciplining his body.
Philippians 3:12-14 speaks of Paul running this race.  He kept pressing on, reaching forward and pressing toward the goal.  But HOW did Paul “press” toward the goal? ONE STEP AT A TIME!

d.  When it comes to our eternity, we can’t afford to do nothing. 

                                                   i.      There are many who think they can finish the race by simply not doing anything evil.  Doing nothing is NOT an acceptable alternative. 
Matthew 25:14-30 - The one talent man tried to do nothing and was condemned.
Revelation 3:14-19 describes the lukewarm church at Laodicea.
James 1:22-24, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourself…”
James 4:17, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall read if we do not lose heart.”

e.   The question that each of us must ask is, “What path will I choose?


 II.                  Why must I make a choice?

a.    We live in a world that tries its hardest to avoid making hard and meaningful choices.  Far too many want to “pass the buck” to someone else.  Their problems are not their fault. 

b.   Solomon realized WHY we must make a choice! “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing.” (Eccl. 12:14)

c.    Let us remind ourselves that one day we will stand before God in judgment –

                                                   i.      Hebrews 9:27, Acts 17:30-31 – there is a day coming.

                                                  ii.      Romans 14:10-12, 2 Cor. 5:9-10 – on that day we will give an account for the lives we have lived.

                                                iii.      Matthew 12:36-37 – every idle word we speak will be accounted for.

                                                iv.      Matthew 10:42 – he remembers the good things too! 
See also Mark 12:41-44 – the widow with two mites

                                                  v.      Can you see why the “small” choices are so important?  Every choice?

d.   Let us remind ourselves that AFTER the judgment we will spend eternity somewhere.

                                                   i.      Those who choose wisely will end up in heaven (Matt. 7:14, Romans 2:7, Matt. 25:34)

                                                  ii.      Those who choose unwisely will end up in hell (Phil. 3:18-19, 2 Thess. 1:8-9, Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 21:8, etc.)

e. Where you spend eternity is up to you!

                                                   i.      2 Pet. 3:9 tells us that God does not want any of us to perish; 1 Tim. 2:4

                                                  ii.      If you are not a Christian, he tells you what you need to do – obey the gospel – Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, etc.

                                                iii.      If you are a Christian, but you are guilty of sin, he tells you what to do as well – Acts 8:22,  1 John 1:9

                                                iv.      If you are a faithful Christian, you can choose to keep going - 1 Cor. 10:12, Eph. 5:15, etc.

                     Sometimes in this life we become discouraged.  Continually we are coming to the “crossroad” and we have to choose which direction we are going to go. This lesson is a simple reminder, that we need to make the right choice and WHY!  It has been my goal to remind us that we CANNOT quit and we CANNOT give up.  What about you?  What path are you choosing today?