It’s good to be here. First, I want to congratulate everyone of you from the bottom of my heart. I am so proud of you. FTE has had a special place with me ever since I first came to Comitancillo about 15 years ago. Though I might not know each one of you personally, I pray for each and everyone of you everyday. It truly is an honor beyond honors to be here to celebrate with you. And there is a reason to celebrate. Hard work means something. But hard work doesn’t mean anything unless you have your eyes set on the Lord. And sometimes the way to keep your eyes set on the Lord, is to remember the days of goodness, to give you fuel and to sustain you when hard times come. And hard times will come. We live in a fallen broken world, under a curse because of sin. And we see the effects of it all the time. So remember this day. I am sure this day, this day you will receive your diploma did not come without any times of difficulty. I am sure it wasn’t always easy to make it to class. To make all your ends meet so that there could be food on the table. I am sure it wasn’t always easy. I am sure lots of things in life were going on the whole time you were pursuing this diploma. Sacrifices were made. And that’s an honorable thing. Along the way, you probably even grew a little bit and became a better person.
But just know with all of that said. And all of that thought about. It’s not all about you. That without God in your life, nothing in this life ultimately has a purpose or means anything. Even this wonderful day of graduation of celebrating hard work and achievement means nothing without God. Consider Ecclesiastes 2 vs. 1, “I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” vs. 17, “So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.” or vs. 22-23, “What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.” Without God, and for his glory. This is all just for show. Just vanity. But with God in your life, everything has a purpose. Everything has a reason. And everything done for his glory is reason to celebrate. Just think of God’s glory and you being with him forever as your final graduation. Maybe let this day be a little preview of that day. There is an old catechism. An old teaching tool. Filled with questions and answers. That you would do well to get to know. the first question goes like this. What is the chief end of man? In other words. What is our main purpose? And the answer is, to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That is our main purpose. To glorify God and enjoy him forever. The same person who wrote Ecclesiastes 2 also wrote at the end of the book in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” The person who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes is said to have been the wisest person in the world. His name was Solomon. He was King David’s son. And he wrote the book of Proverbs, the book of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. At the beginning of Ecclesiastes he is called the preacher. Sometimes I think the best way to understand the book of Ecclesiastes is to read it backwards. From back to front. Now, I am not saying to do that. But it’s almost like as he was saying over and over again throughout the book; life doesn’t make sense, life doesn’t make sense. It’s just all for show. Vanity. Meaningless. Worthless. Until I considered God.
And friends it’s truth. Without God, nothing makes sense. You see, if you don’t know God, all you have is this life. I have heard it said, “for those who don’t know God, this life is the best there will ever be, but for those who do know God, this is the worst things will ever be” Friends, that’s a horrible way to look at the world. That the world the way it is now, is the best things will ever be. But the preacher man. The man who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes.
Got to the end of it all. Examined the whole matter. And said, no, it does make sense. There is a God, and since there is a God who we have to give an account to for our life. Everything we do matters. And since everything we do matters, the conclusion of it all, is to “fear God and keep his commandments” That’s why Solomon could write in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
And he will direct your paths. It will not always be easy. But it will always be right and you will always have purpose. Friends, you worked hard for this. But remember your creator. Give him all the glory! And know that he is faithful. That he will sustain you. Let this day be proof. That through all of life’s trials and and all of life’s hardships, he will be with you. And then remember the most important thing of all. That no achievement that you do for God is as great as what he did for you. The God of the universe. The maker of heaven and earth. The one we are told in the first chapter of the gospel of John, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God” …. “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus Christ. Whom the whole OT is pointing to. Jesus Christ, the very God of God, whom the whole OT is setting up this expectation of his coming to rescue. The same God whom it says of at the end of Ecclesiastes, that the sum of everything we should learn is Fear God and keep his commandments. That God, left heaven, became a man, lived a perfect life, died on a cross as our substitute, took the punishment we deserved for our sins, so that we indeed could be rescued. That’s what God did for you. Theres nothing greater you can do for him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He who knew no sin, became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God” That is the greatest thing you could ever come to believe in and set your focus on. That the God who rightly and justly could throw everyone of us into hell for all of eternity is also the same God who died on the cross for our sins so we don’t have to be. Friends, work hard. But don’t work hard to earn God’s favor. Work hard from God’s favor. Everyday bow your knee to him. And say, thank you for what you did for me. Salvation. Eternal salvation comes through believing in him. Theres no other way. The Apostle said in Philippians 2, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Work out your salvation, not work for your salvation. Work it out. That belief you have inside of, that I would dare say is a gift according to Ephesians 2:8-9, that we in no way whatsoever should take lightly. That belief you have inside of you. That trust you have in Jesus. Work it out. Get what you have on the inside of you, on the outside, for it is God that works in you. You see, because of what Jesus did for you, you have to power to live for him. The man who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes had all the money in the world. The largest kingdom in the world. Everything in life that people tend to put so much hope in or wish they had, he had. Money, wealth, riches, power, fame, and yet he said it was all worthless and vain. When he came to the end of his life he said what ultimately matters is to fear God and keep his commandments. Why do we fear God? I will tell you why. On this side of the cross. On this side of the Bible. We have crossed the Testamental divide. We are in the New Covenant that the Old Testament is point to. We know that Jesus died for our sins. We know this is the New Covenant sealed in his blood. We know that. And since we know that, we know there is no other way of salvation except Jesus Christ. So friends, we fear not believing that. We fear not giving that the worth in out life that that deserves. We fear not trusting him. We fear making other things in life more important than that. We fear not being by his side. We fear walking away from him. Life is short. 60, 70, 80, 90 years and then what. Eternity. Friends, live your life with eternity in view. Live your life for Jesus. Everything else is just waste. Everything else is worthless. Don’t waste your life. Don’t make it worthless. Live your life for Jesus. Make it count. That’s my challenge to you today. Jesus Christ demands for us are not burdensome. He died for our sins so that we could live for him. Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free” It’s for freedom. Jesus Christ summed up all of God’s law like this. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (10:27) That’s his demand on you. Does that sound hard? Well, it should, because it is. In fact, it’s impossible. If it were not for God, it would be impossible to do what God is calling us to do. But with God all things are possible. You do know as a believer, as one who has repented of your sins and believed on Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit in you. That is what Ephesians 1:13 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” Believer, the abiding power and presence of God, the Holy Spirit is in you. You can do this. Be forgiven. Than love. Love others, because he first loved you. (1 John 4:19). God gave you his Holy Spirit, so you can do this. You have haven’t been forgiven by God because of what Jesus did, and given his Holy Spirit so you can do what you want to do. No. It’s so you can do what he wants you to do. That’s what this world needs. Not more self focused people. But more people who are willing to lay down their lives for others and love like Jesus loved. Jesus knows that’s what this world needs. Jesus knows that first people need to be saved from themselves because “we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). When we are saved part of what happens is we are saved from our own selfish wants and desires and be transformed into people who are seeking God’s glory not our own. Transformed into living for his mission not our own. Jesus knows this is what the world needs. We need to live for something bigger. That’s why he said. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Is it going to be easy? Again, no. If it was going to be easy why would we need the God of the universe living inside of us, being with us to the end of the age. We are never promised anywhere ins scripture that its going to be easy. But we are promised everywhere all the time, that it will be worth it. Living for and surrendering your life and all that you are to Jesus is worth it. Because Jesus is worth. If I had a scale. And I could somehow take everything that there is, and everything that there ever was or ever will be. Mountains, mole hills. Rivers, lakes and oceans. Stars, galaxies, all the riches and pile it all on this side of the scale, and then put Jesus on the other side. Jesus is worth more than it all. He outweighs it all. Live your life for him. Make it count. Don’t come to the end of your life, looking back and seeing it all was meaningless. All this is going to pass away. And then what’s going to be left is what you did for him. All the riches of this world are going to pass away. All the kingdoms of this world are going to pass away, and then what’s going to be left is God’s kingdom. Is this what you are investing in? Is this what you are going to give your life for? I dare say if you are you will not regret it. And if you are not, you will. There is an old song that called: “Thank you for giving to the Lord”. It’s about a person who lived there life for Jesus and thinks there life didn’t really have much impact. But then one day they died and went to heaven. The song goes like this:
I dreamed I went to heaven
You were there with me
We walked along the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw a young man
He was smiling as he came
He said friend, you may not know me now
But then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday school
When I was only eight
Every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
One morning when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart And the song goes on. He thinks his life didn't mean much. But it did. Because one by one people come to him and tell him how they accepted Jesus because of his life. Friends, your life makes sense. Know it does. Know that God will use every little thing that you do for Jesus, every little thing, know it, for your good, the good of others and for his glory. A life lived for him is not ever, ever a wasted life. A life for Jesus is a life well spent. Spend it friends. One day you to will hear, “I am so glad you gave”. Let’s pray!