On youth and ageing

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When and where have you seen God at work in the week that is ending? Thank him.

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Bible passage: Ecclesiastes 12:1–14

12 Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,
    and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
    and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
    and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;
when people are afraid of heights
    and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
    and mourners go about the streets.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
    “Everything is meaningless!”

The Conclusion of the Matter

Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.

11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


Before it's too late
Following yesterday’s encouragement to the young to enjoy themselves (11:9), the Teacher now advises young people not to forget about God. Many young people will say that religion is for old people, or that they will put off thinking about God until they’re old. The Teacher tells us to think about God now, before it is too late. Verses 1b to 7 are an allegory of ageing: describing the decaying of life.

Fear God
In the final verse, the Teacher at last recognises that God will judge every action. Having previously lamented that the same fate awaits every person, whatever they have done (3:20), his conclusion gives a different perspective. Now he sees that God’s ultimate judgement will separate good from evil: fearing God in this life does matter (v 13).

A life pleasing to God
At any time of life, it is sobering to remember that God will judge our actions. While we are saved entirely by grace, because of the death and resurrection of Christ, the New Testament continues to remind us that this does not mean we can continue to sin. Being saved by grace should rather motivate us to live a life that is pleasing to God (see Romans 6:1–4).

Alison Allen


Whether you are young or not-so-young, how is your walk with the Lord? Why not commit to making 2019 a year in which you ‘fear God and keep his commandments’? What does that mean for you practically?

Deeper Bible study

The book of Ecclesiastes has traced the journey of a man’s search for meaning. Finally, we reach journey’s end – and the glad discovery that life is indeed invested with meaning and significance, provided we lift our eyes and ‘remember’ our Creator (v 1a).

The graphic word-picture of the ageing process (vs 1b–6) is a sobering reminder of human frailty and the finality of death. One final time, we hear the refrain that has run through this book: ‘Meaningless! Meaningless! … Everything is meaningless’ (v 8). Yet, from the frustration of feeling that ‘Nothing Matters Much’ (see December 28) the Teacher has reached the conviction that, eventually, everything (deeds, as well as unseen motives) matters, and matters eternally – since everything comes under God’s judgement (v 14). His long search has brought him to a decisive conclusion: ‘The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you’ (v 13, The Message). ‘Goads’ are intended to prod; ‘nails’ hold things in place (v 11a). The Teacher’s words are both a warning to heed and a promise to hold on to. Much of Ecclesiastes set before us the Teacher’s words, ideas and opinions, flawed ‘wisdom’ from an ‘under the sun’ perspective; but now, he affirms these are God’s words – ‘given by one shepherd’ (v 11b). We discount or defy them at our peril.

The Jews read Ecclesiastes at the Feast of Tabernacles, where, for one week, they lived in booths – temporary shelters – in remembrance of their wilderness wanderings. Ecclesiastes reminds us that life under the sun is transient and that lasting significance and satisfaction are to be found not in savouring and serving created things, but in the Creator: ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.’1

1 Augustine, 354–430, Confessions, translation

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Genesis 24,25

Matthew 9


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Awesome God (Your Voice)
Vicky Beeching
Copyright© 2001 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire)
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.vineyardrecords.co.uk

‘Search me oh God’
Peformed by : Vicky Beeching
Written by: Vicky Beeching
Copyright: © 1997 Thankyou MusicYou can buy this and other great worship songs at www.integritymusic.com

  • Rachael Hampton | Friday, 11 January 2019

    The teacher seems to believe that youth is a carefree time - unlike adulthood. Yet the highest rate of suicide is among our youth. The pressures and complications of life for our young people are often intense and my heart goes out to them. How blessed are those who have the prodding goads and strong nails of believing families and churches to keep them strong and centred! And how blessed are we whose ageing is made easier by medical science! Old age must have indeed been miserable in the teacher’s day. Lynda, your post was a great illustration of the passage. We seek God’s mind as we plan, then put our hearts into our work (or living) for Him - and trust Him for the outcomes. Blessings all.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Friday, 11 January 2019

    Think of a world without any flowers, think of a world without any trees, think of a sky without any sunshine, think of the air without any breeze. We thank you, Lord, for flowers and trees and sunshine, we thank you, Lord, and praise your holy name. - Doreen E Newport WORDS & MUSIC (GENESIS) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsoC1lhBAdE

  • Jack Russell | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    That's interesting with what you say about the highest number of suicides being with our youth Rachael. Which goes to show that the words in scripture always need to be weighed up and considered in the light if "the word" being Jesus and "the word of God" being the "sword of the Spirit". So we must come to scripture from a Christological perspective if we are to grasp it's intended meaning. To come to the bible in the light of Christ and knowing him. In answer to the question today, I have seen God in creative things, in peace and in connection between people this week. At other times I have seen it when people have noticed something powerful which has been God at work with someone. How great it is to think that this is possible with everyone! On the other hand for me, there has been the temptation to not adhere to truth in order to make a situation easier with less conflict in the here and now. However if I were to do that, I would be sacrificing the future. The words at the end of the reading with fearing God and keeping his commandments being the duty of all mankind with his judgement awaiting all are stark reminders of the consequences of not adhering to truth and the responsibility to stick with it, come what may. To take the path of faith, which yes is in part about considering the lilies and the food God provides for the birds - is also part of the weaponry, the armour of God. there to extinguish evil, firey darts. "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent men take hold of it".

  • Ray Skinner | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Thank you S.U. for such excellent notes (these last two weeks) and as usual.

  • Sue Sebborn | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    I too have found our study of Ecclesiastes really good. I've seen it in a new light over the last two weeks, thank you.

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Jesus guides us as we read God’s word; He tells us to have love for God and for our neighbour. The teacher in today’s scripture had also come to the realisation of this, as it provides the foundation for life. Thank you JACK for your comment and GILVIN I remember you in my prayers and hope you are well.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Like others I have found this read through Ecclesiastes very rewarding. It is a continual delight to see how God uses the WL syllabus, prepared months or years in advance, to speak about what happened in my own life yesterday, today, tomorrow. Yesterday, I heard of the passing of a very old and dear friend. Since his ordination in the 1950s, he had been a dynamic and encouraging Minister and Chaplain most of his adult life . Even after retirement he continued to take regular services until his health failed completely. Only very recently, knowing his work was done, he gave all his vestments to a younger Minister, who could only afford a basic array. He was a wonderful example and lived the Ecclesiastes life of wisdom. (Posted in memory of Revd Denis Egerton Gardiner)

  • Helen Marshall | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    I have been really stretched and challenged by Ecclesiastes over the last few weeks. It always amazes me that God’s Word was written so long ago but can be exactly what we feel and need each day. Thank you for the insights and reflections. I need to go a complete rereading of this study!

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Thank God for Jesus for now there is no fear in judgement for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom 8:3-5 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. ANGELA I'm fine thank you, just took a few days off commenting as I sometimes think I say too much. Have caught up on comments and pray your Dad is progressing well, he has a precious daughter as does the King of kings.

  • Oluwatoyin Olajide | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    I have experienced God in a new way at my workplace as He helped us all to put in our best despite being understaffed. He replaced the usual chaos with peace. At the beginning of the week, I just had the urge to pray that God should renew a right spirit within us and he did. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds me of Mark 8:36. May God teach us all to number our days and apply our hearts to wisdom. Have a great weekend everyone.

  • Hannatu Gamba | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    The pressure in our youths today is all the more reason why they should remember their Creator in the days of their youth. Thank God for churches that prioritise youth teaching and activities.

  • Jack Russell | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Gilvin when you wrote of "no fear in judgement for those who are in Christ Jesus" what were your intending to communicate? Were you meaning to say that if you are a Christian that you will not be judged by God and therefore do not need fear God? Or did you mean to say that being "in Christ Jesus" comes with the gift of faith from God and that in that Christians will also be judged as everyone. Therefore there being a need to fear God for Christians but also that Christians know the remedy for that fear in Christ, knowing that God is loving and knowing the indwelling of the Spirit - a spirit of love power and sound mind? Or did you mean to communicate something else?

  • Sandra Laythorpe | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Lovely verses and responses today.

  • David Chipchase | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    From yesterday, what is "Messy Church"?

  • Barbara Sabin | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. GILVIN your posting is always of value and is missed when you with hold it. https://youtu.be/yZ0mjIAuPDg

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Hello JACK. I meant that ALL judgement fell on Jesus 2000 years so for all who believe that, are now justified by faith (just as if I'd never sinned). Galatians 3:19-21 reminds us that the OT Law was temporary until Jesus' ultimate sacrifice. He sees us as we are, made new. Our sin doesn't invoke his wrath - Jesus paid that penalty but our sin does give inroads to Satan to mess with our mind/body but he cannot touch our spirit. 'The church' has for many years integrated OT covenant with NT covenant but you can no more do that than put new wine into old wineskins. -Thanks for asking.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Bless you BARBARA. I read a very telling statement the other day which you and many on here will understand. It was this "There are many Christians who do not let the bible get in the way of what they believe"

  • Jack Russell | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Gilvin thank you for responding. In the light of what we have discussed above there is a need to interpret scripture through the eyes of Christ. In that aim then my understanding of what you have wanted to say is that with regard to judgement, this does not apply to someone who believes, is a Christian and therefore if we look at scripture from today, and see that according to that fear is linked with God's judgement, that there is no need for a Christian to fear God. Barbara, you seem (as far as I can gather) to be in support of this. Gal 3:19-21 shows that righteousness does not come about from the law but righteousness comes through Christ. This is where we are in agreement. Where we part in agreement is about a Christian and fearing God. As Barbara rightly quoted there is the difference between setting minds on what the flesh desires and living according to the Spirit. I've not known any Christian that never has their mind set on what the flesh desires. For all have fallen short of the glory of God and none are without sin (Christians included). So with regard to OT and NT I would suggest considering the principle of all scripture being God breathed and useful. Therefore we come to the OT with a NT perspective and as best as we can through the lens of Christ. Given that no Christian is without sin (and therefore in practice at times not being "in Christ") it seems unreasonable for Christians not to face judgement as unbelievers. When Christ is recorded as telling the goats to go away it wasn't because they hadn't done things in his name. To the sheep he welcomed as "good and faithful servant" it wasn't because they had believed. So I think we need to be very careful about what we claim about judgement. The "justification by faith" that we can be fond of in our Christian circles is influenced strongly by Luther. At the same time Luther argued this in a context of works. So there was both works and faith. We know that faith without works is dead. And we know of the parable of the talents with the "wicked and lazy servant". So I think it fair to conclude that Christians will be judged as everyone. And in that there is need to have a fear of God. Scripture elsewhere talks of those who do not have a fear of God as being "stubborn and obstinate". I think it helpful to consider such fear as an act of grace as also the love of God. The fear enabling us to know our place with God, being as it were the "Law" being written on our hearts, and the love of God driving out the fear and covering many sins. Or put it another way, it would be only right, say if we were to want to break the law and drive at dangerous speeds that we should fear getting points on our licence, a fine or ever our licence taken away. Whereas if we drive within the speed limits we need have no fear of such. Good to share with you Gilvin and thanks again for explaining what you intended to convey earlier.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Husband busy watching rugby so I'll have a stab at responding JACK point by point. Today's reading is from OT before Jesus being the propitiation for our sins. Yes, we have all fallen short but don't stop there Jack, read the rest of the verse that goes on to say 'and are freely justified (just as if they'd never sinned) through his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. I am 'in Christ' whether I sin or not. It is not my individual sin that makes me a sinner. I inherited it from Adam and by the same token I inherited righteousness from Christ for he took my sin. He has forgiven me past, present and future sin so there can be no judgement. If I rob a bank next week God will love me as much as he does this week. While I spend in years in prison I'd reflect on how stupid I was to give Stan an inroad in persuading me. Punishment would not come from God, Jesus took it all at Calvary. In my spirit I am as pure as Jesus because it is Jesus living in me, A new creation, no more in condemnation. I'm made up of spirit, soul and body. My body is decaying as it gets older. My soul is being renewed day by day and my spirit, that part which will be with Jesus forever, is as pure as Jesus and will never be contaminated. If I were a lazy servant I would question whether I actually believed in Jesus. When I reflect on what it cost to redeem me, I want to loved Him with all my heart. It is not fear that drives one towards the love of God anymore than the Old Covenant got rid of sin once and for all. Sin ceases as a by-product of knowing that every sin was dealt with at the cross. Yes I sin because I forget Jesus and allow my ego or selfish reasons centre stage I repent and thank Him for reminding me that He is God, not me. Thank you that Jesus took my sins 2000 years ago so I need never do that again.. Praise be to you in Jesus name, Amen .

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    GILVIN - Thanks be to God for the clarity and timely message all your comments carry with them. You are a wonderful teacher and friend . May God bless you always.

  • Jack Russell | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Hello Gilvin. Thank you for continuing with this discussion. You clearly are passionate about Jesus! At the same time if I allude to a verse it doesn't necessarily mean that I have considered it out of context and if we perceive things differently it doesn't necessarily make one of us right and another wrong. You mentioned propitiation. The doctrine of the atonement is something we also have inherited in our church tradition and there has been much debate about this in more recent years. You say "ALL judgement fell on Jesus". In keeping with that you don't expect to be judged by God, saying "there can be no judgement." OK I stand with the view that Christians will be judged as others for the reasons given. It's OK to disagree. On the issue of judgement falling on Jesus, we have the "cosmic child abuse" issue. The doctrine of the atonement must answer to this. The issue being if God allows judgement to fall on his own son in such a way whilst he has done nothing wrong, is that not a case of parental abuse? And then why would anyone in their right mind want to worship a being that is abusive? As you can see I have questions about the doctrine of the atonement. I see what happened as both the religious and secular conspiring in the crucifixion of Jesus. Of God the father in his love of humanity not forcing his will but allowing humanity to choose its own will. In the human representation of Jesus him loving humanity so much as to give up his life and in the Sprit, having the power of the resurrection. And so for the Christian life to mirror that. Of a constant cycle of death, of losing one's own life for the sake of Christ, so that one may have life in its fullest. It requiring sacrifice, paradoxically to have life and holding on to one's own life resulting in losing it. Now having this perception of Father Son and Spirit, the suffering I endure for Christ's sake has meaning and is worth it. The God that would punish his own innocent son to the point of death frankly I have a problem with. The doctrine of the atonement whilst clearly being popular in some teaching ironically presents God as pretty scary and inflicting death on the innocent. I respect your freedom to choose how you perceive God but I'm going with any fear of God I have being because of what I have done or not done and God administering justice rather than God pouring out judgement on the innocent.

  • Joy Malcolm | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    I have never commented before but feel I must share the wonderful experience I had this week . My husband ,after 52 years of marriage told me he had come to believe a few weeks ago., He became seriously ill the day after Christmas and died last Friday .He was very much a loner and shied away from publicity but told our minister when he visited him in hospital that if he pulled through could he go into the pulpit and tell everyone about his faith and ,in his own words , not to leave it too late. He died before he could do this but this story was told at his funeral as it was the last thing he could do to tell people of Jesus love When he was told he couldn’t pull through ,he said Jesus is waiting for me. We sang “safe in the arms of Jesus “ at his funeral . Thought I should share this with you

  • Oakley Bookworm | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    JOY Thank you for your first post. What a wonderful story! God Bless you

  • Angela Munday | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    JOY - Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience of your husband’s love for Jesus and the courage Jesus gave him. Praying for you as you face the days ahead, as you grieve your husband’s passing after so many years together. Amen.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    DAVID I don't see a reply to your question. MESSY CHURCH is an informal or casual service using modern worship songs and little or no ceremony. It usually contains craft activities and other hands on worship and praise. Primarily, it is aimed at attracting families with young children. They can run on Sundays replacing a traditional service or at another time. Saturday or Sunday afternoons appear popular times in my area. Many Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and independent churches run them in the UK.

  • Jennifer Yohannes | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Thank you Barbara

  • Roger Hall | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Joy, bless you, your story is amazing. He is safe with his Lord.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Thank you JOY for sharing such a wonderful revelation of God's love. Thank you too ANGELA for being a Barnabas to me.

  • Lynda Spencer | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    JOY, what a wonderful story. How blessed we are that you felt able to share it! Please stay with us and continue to comment. I will pray for you. GILVIN, I echo what BARBARA says - your posts make a valuable contribution to this page, and I am grateful for the time and thought you give to them.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Thank you Barbara and Lynda, you are real blessings.

  • Barbara Sabin | Saturday, 12 January 2019

    Praise God JOY that your husband has gone to glory. Sorry DAVID I missed your question and OAKLEY as usual has given the explanatory answer except my understanding is that Messy Church should not be on a Sunday. It is an Anglican concept for teaching Scripture to families, but many other Churches are now holding them. We hold them on Fridays. JACK if we are born of the Spirit Christians we are passionate about Jesus, he died to set us free from sin and if the Son sets us free we are free indeed and we have the victory in Christ. The Spirit is the power in us. Jesus by His suffering and death made atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved, I believe it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified and that their whole spirit, soul and body may be preserved blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe in the immortality of the soul the resurrection of the body in the general judgement at the end of the world the eternal happiness of the righteous and the endless punishment of the wicked. You may benefit by reading Freedom in Christ by Neil Anderson.

  • Jack Russell | Sunday, 13 January 2019

    Amen to all the comments Joy may your husbands testimony be a comfort to you in your grieving.

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