Do Future You a Favor | Timothy "TA" Ateek

Timothy "TA" Ateek // Aug 29, 2023

How will your future self look back on your young adult years? This week, Timothy "TA" Ateek walks us through the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 11-12 and gives us biblical guidelines for living in a way that honors God and keeps us from wasting our 20s and 30s.

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What's up, Porch? How are we doing tonight? It's so good to see you. I hope all is well. If this is your first time ever, I'm so glad you made it. Thank you for trusting us with your Tuesday night. My name is Timothy Ateek, and I'm one of the teaching pastors here on Tuesday nights as well as Sunday mornings. I do want to give a shout-out to all of the Porch.Live locations that are watching right now. I want to say a special "hello" to Porch.Live Indy, Porch.Live Greater Lafayette, and Porch.Live Tulsa. I'm so glad you're tuning in tonight. I hope all is well with you.

Here's the reality. If you've been at The Porch for a little bit, then you have heard me share often about my years and my days as a young adult. I just figure it is worth you having a visual of what I looked like when I was 24. So, let me show you a picture so you can get an image in your head. I don't know why you're laughing. That's super offensive.

One person saw this earlier, and she said, "If I saw you standing on the side of the road, I would be scared." That was hurtful. Those shorts… I did not cut those off. I bought them that way from Abercrombie & Fitch. Thank you very much. I was wearing those Chacos. I don't know what else to say about it, guys. God has done a great work in my life since then. That's what I can say about that.

Here's what you need to know. That picture actually was taken at a time when I was in Europe right after the Lord wrecked my life and began rebuilding it. So, when I look at that picture, I kind of see past the cutoff khaki shorts. I see past the Chacos. I see past the hair. I see past all of that, and I see all the goodness God had done in my life over the past month that I had been out of the country.

A month before that, my life had crashed into rock bottom due to compromising decisions. I was living in the midst of a bunch of unnecessary pain. A couple of weeks ago, I told you there's a difference between avoidable pain and unnecessary pain. Unavoidable pain is the pain that will find you. You don't have to go looking for it. It will track you down. Then there's unnecessary pain. It's what comes from compromising decisions in your life.

I tell you that because when I look back to when I was 24, there are various things I can look back on and say, "I'm so glad I did that. I'm so glad I took that trip to Europe with friends. I'm so glad I did some spontaneous road trips. I'm so glad I went back to A&M to watch some football games." There are a lot of things I did when I was 24 that I'm glad I did. I'm glad I jumped in and volunteered with Lake Highlands Young Life and invested in high school kids. At the same time, there are various things I can look back at that I did when I was 24, and I just think, "What was I thinking?"

The reason I bring that up is what's interesting is if you think about where you're at right now, whether you're 27 or 32 or you just graduated college and just moved to Dallas… What's interesting is 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, you're going to look back on this moment. You're going to look back on who you were in 2023, and you're going to have a picture of yourself.

You're going to see it, and it's going to jog your memory about the life you were living right now. There are going to be things you're going to look back on, and you're going to think, "I'm so glad I did that." Then there are going to be other things that you're actually doing right now in your life. Ten years from now, 15 years from now, you're going to look back on this time, this season, and you're going to say, "What was I thinking?" Isn't that crazy to think about?

You're going to think, "What was I thinking?" Like, "Why did I date him? Why did I date her? Why did I go there? That was such a terrible idea. What was I thinking?" There have been various times in my life where people have asked me, "Hey, if you could go back and talk to your younger self, what would you tell your younger self?" So, that's what I want to do tonight. I want to share with you five things I would share with my young adult self.

If I could go back and talk to 24-year-old Timothy Ateek, there are five things I would share with him. What's interesting is the five things I'm going to share aren't my own. This is not my own material. They come straight out of the end of the book of Ecclesiastes. They actually come from King Solomon. If you're new to The Porch, we've been in a series walking through the book of Ecclesiastes.

You might not be familiar with Ecclesiastes, but it's considered Wisdom Literature, which means it can show you how to live a wise life. It was written by one of the wisest people to ever walk on the face of the earth. It is highly applicable to the lives of young adults. In fact, right there at the end of the book, it is King Solomon, who is old in life, and he's basically giving his swan song to the next generation. He is speaking into the lives of young adults.

What we're going to see King Solomon say to the next generation, and what end up being the five things I would say to my young adult self, are the things I want to share with you tonight. The five things we're going to see from King Solomon are these. I'll share them with you now, and then we'll begin to walk through them.

  1. Before you follow your heart, you need a new and cultivated heart.

  2. Embrace where God has you.

  3. Today is the best day to wholeheartedly follow Jesus.

  4. Your view of God determines your response to God.

  5. Never get over the gospel.

That's what we're going to unpack tonight. If I could go back and talk to my 24-year-old self, that's what I would tell him, and that's what I hope you hear tonight. So, if you have a Bible, turn with me to Ecclesiastes, chapter 11. We're going to start in chapter 11, and then we're going to go through to the end of the book. We're going to finish our series tonight.

  1. Before you follow your heart, you need a new and cultivated heart. From King Solomon, talking to the next generation, that is what he wants you to know. Look at what he says in verse 9. "Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth." He's saying, "Look. Your young adult years are great years. Enjoy them. Make the most of the years you have right now. Don't let these years slip by."

That's what he's saying when he says, "Let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth." Then he goes on, and watch what he says. "Walk in the ways of your heart…" We might say in our day, "Follow your heart." "…and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment."

This is very interesting. What Solomon is doing is he's putting bumpers on the bowling alley lane. He's like, "Look. There's a fairway, and there are bumpers that will keep you on track." The reason I say that is he says, "Follow your heart, but just remember that God will bring you into judgment." So, when Solomon says, "Follow your heart and walk in the sight of your eyes," here's what he's getting at.

He's saying, "Look. You have more freedom right now than you will ever have in your life." I know some of you guys are crushing 60 hours a week, but here's what I'm really saying: you will only gain more responsibility the older you get. If you get married, you're going to have a wife. If you have kids, you're going to have a husband or a wife and kids, and you might work your way up in your job.

I was talking to one guy in his 60s recently, and he was like, "I had worked myself to a place where I had five kids at home and 20 kids at work." What was he saying? He was like, "My life was full of responsibility." Right now, in your young adult years, this is the most free you'll ever be. What Solomon is saying is even though you are still busy, responsibility is only going to increase, so don't waste this time. Don't miss it because you're full of passion. The heart is like the control center of your being. It speaks to your thoughts, your desires, your motivations, your dreams.

What Solomon is saying is, "Hey, you have dreams. You have ambitions. You have desires, and you should pursue those." Don't wait until some "someday" when it feels like all of the stars align for you to finally follow your passions and follow your ambitions. He's saying, "Do it now." When he says, "Walk in the sight of your eyes…" Your eyes are the way you perceive opportunity. So, Solomon is saying, "If you're beholding opportunity, step into it. Let's go. Don't wait around. Don't wait for someday. Today is the day. Get moving. Do it."

At the same time, he puts bumpers on it, and he says, "Just remember, though, for all of these things, God will bring you into judgment." He's saying, "Look. Follow your passions, but just remember God cares about your passions. Follow your dreams, but remember God cares about your dreams and your opportunities." Not every passion or dream or opportunity is worth following. God cares about how you live now. That's why the point is "Before you follow your heart, you need a new and cultivated heart."

What I'm really saying is before you follow your dreams, you need to make sure they're godly dreams. Before you follow your desires, you need to make sure they're godly desires. We live in a day and time where we love the idea of just doing what feels right, but let's be clear. Sometimes really bad things are going to feel really good. Things that lead to major brokenness in your life can feel really good at different points. So, it's good to have an understanding of our hearts.

We talked about this a couple of weeks ago. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" The heart is described as deceitful. Your heart, apart from Jesus, will deceive you, and it will lead you to do dumb things. The good news of the gospel is we are promised a new heart in Jesus. That's why I say, "Before you follow your heart, you need a new heart."

Ezekiel 36:26 says, "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." When you come to know Jesus Christ, you're not a bad person who becomes good; you're a dead person who becomes new. Part of that is you're given a new heart, which has new desires. So, your dreams become more in line with God's dreams for you. Your desires become more in line with God's desires for you.

But before you follow your heart, you don't just need a new heart; you need a cultivated heart. Here's what I mean. God might put a new heart within you, but that heart needs to be cultivated. You're not just going to magically trust in Jesus, and then everything in your life is always just about Jesus. Like, you wake up every morning, and all you want to do is be where Jesus is, and all you want to do is what Jesus wants you to do. No. There's still a battle inside of you. That heart has to be cultivated by Jesus.

So, what does that look like? Well, let me explain it this way. I'm a big Dallas Cowboys football fan. I don't know if there are any Cowboys fans… I don't know what your team is. Whoever your team is, you can apply it to your situation. Here's what I want you to think about. What if the Cowboys were on offense, and they got into the huddle, and Dak Prescott was like, "Here's what I'm thinking, guys. Everybody, just follow your heart.

That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to follow my heart. Pollard, what are you thinking? Are you going to follow your heart behind me? Great. CeeDee Lamb, what are you thinking? Are you going to go out and follow your heart? Whatever you want to do. Offensive line, what are you thinking? Don't tell me. Follow your heart. We'll just see what happens."

Can you imagine how chaotic that would be? It would be crazy if Dak was like, "I'm going to follow my heart. Everyone, you just do whatever you want to do, and it's going to be great." It won't be great because you actually have an opposing team that has been watching film on how to take you down. The same is true in the spiritual realm. We have an enemy who is seeking to take us down. So, when we just do whatever we want to do, a lot of times it doesn't go well.

What do you see Dak Prescott doing in between each play? If you watch him, you're going to see him covering up his ears. Why? Because there are comms in his helmet, and his coach is calling the play. If the comm is not working, he's going to look to the sideline to get the play. Do you know what it looks like to cultivate your heart? To cultivate your heart is to consistently look to the sideline. You look to the coach to call the play.

God is the coach. He is the one who is after our joy. He wants us to walk in fullness of joy, but that fullness of joy comes from our desires, our dreams, and our motivations being driven by him. So, when Solomon says, "Get going. Walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes," what he's saying is, "Hey, when your heart and your sight are aligned with God, something amazing can happen in your young adult years."

What does it look like to look to the sidelines? Well, first, you have to come to Jesus. If you don't know Jesus, if you're here tonight and you're not a Christian… You're just checking this thing out. You thought it was a restaurant, and it's actually a church. You got tricked, but you're here, so you might as well explore it. Come to Jesus. Put your trust in him.

Don't just come to Jesus; live surrendered to Jesus. Don't just make Jesus your Savior; let him be your King. Let him reign in your life. Then submit to his Word. You can't know God's ways without knowing his Word. Don't just know what other people say; know what God says. He's the coach. He calls the plays.

Then walk with others. Invite other Jesus followers into your life who can help you identify, "Hey, I don't think that desire is in line with God's desires. Don't follow your heart in this situation, because it's going to mislead you." So, if I were to talk to my young adult self, here's what I would tell him. I would just say, "Before you follow your heart, you need a new and cultivated heart."

  1. Embrace where God has you. When I say embrace, I am saying, "Hug the place where God has you now." Look at what Solomon says in verse 10. "Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity." I want to break down what he's saying here. When he says the dawn of life, that can be translated as the prime of life. You are in the prime of life right now. Congratulations. You made it. You're there. You are officially in the prime of life.

That word dawn literally means black or blackened. It's talking about the hair. You're in the stage of life where there is no gray hair yet. What's that like? It has been a minute since I was there. He's saying, "Look. Youth and the dawn of life are vanity." That word vanity is the word that's used most in the book of Ecclesiastes. It's the Hebrew word hebel. It literally means mist or vapor. It's like that steam that comes out of your mouth on a cold day. It's like trying to catch that. It's impossible. It's so fleeting.

Solomon's point is your youthfulness, the prime of life, is so fleeting. It will flash by. What's crazy is this is how young adulthood goes. You graduate from college, and for the first 10 years after you graduate college, you feel like you just graduated college. But think about this. If you're 25, you were a freshman in college seven years ago. Seven years ago! If you're 30, you were a freshman in college 12 years ago. That's how fast time moves. It flies by.

Solomon's point is, "Hey, the prime of life goes fast, so don't spend all of your time missing out on joy during this season." Instead, he says, "Remove vexation." Do you know what vexation is? It's referring to unnecessary emotional anxiety and frustration. He's saying, "Don't spend all of the prime of your life frustrated." Yet I feel like so many young adults spend all of their young adult years frustrated, waiting for the next season of life to come, like they will truly be satisfied and happy in the next chapter but not in this chapter.

That was me. That 24-year-old you saw in that picture… I hated being single…hated it. I actually had a friend, my best friend… Here's what he told me: "You are just happier when you're in a relationship." Why? Because I needed that. I needed a girl in my life to feel valuable, to feel that companionship, to have those plans, to feel wanted. I needed that to feel satisfied. So, in all of the days that I was single, I was frustrated.

I wonder if that's you. I wonder if you're just frustrated. You look around at other people, and you're frustrated. Maybe it's not about a relationship. Maybe you're frustrated that you're not in the job you want to be in. I know a lot of young adults graduate college. They get their first job. They're really excited about it. They're finally making their own money.

Then you get into the job, and you're like, "Wait a second. There is no more summer break. Spring break isn't a thing." This is your life now, and you're like, "This job… There are so many layers of management above me, and this feels like it's not fully maximizing who I am as a person." So you get three months in, and you're like, "Oh my gosh! I only have nine more months until my apartment lease is up," because you're ready to move on to the next thing. You're frustrated.

Let me encourage you: don't spend all of your young adult years longing for the next thing. Embrace where God has you now. Let me just tell you, the best way to experience more joy with where God has you now… Stop looking around and comparing yourself to other people. Stop comparing. Stop comparing how much money you have versus how much they have.

Stop being frustrated that they have the Tesla and you don't. Stop being frustrated that they take the extravagant vacations to Europe and you don't. Stop getting frustrated that they get to go out to eat and go to happy hour and buy drinks more than you get to. Embrace where God has you. It is what it is, and God has good plans for you now. He wants to do something in your life now. So don't miss it.

Now, here's what I'm not saying. It's okay if you're single and you want to be married. That's a good desire. You don't need to do this thing where you're like, "Okay, God. I don't want anyone. I mean, he looks amazing, but I don't even want him." No. Let's not be fake. It's okay to acknowledge, "He would be nice." "She sounds great." But I'm not going to bank on a relationship. I'm not going to bet all of my joy on a relationship. Find your joy in Jesus and where he has you right now.

  1. Today is the best day to wholeheartedly follow Jesus. If I could talk to 24-year-old TA, that's what I would tell him. I would say, "Today is the best day to wholeheartedly follow Jesus." You might be like, "I know your story. Weren't you in seminary at the time?" Yeah. And you know what happened to me? I let serving Jesus replace knowing Jesus. So, what I would tell him is, "Today is the best day to wholeheartedly follow Jesus and know Jesus."

Watch this. This is chapter 12. Chapter 12 is masterful. Watch what Solomon says. Verse 1: "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them…'" He's saying, "Right now, while you're still young, in your young adult years… Remember your Creator now before you get old, because when you're old, it's not nearly as enjoyable. Life is not nearly as enjoyable as it is now."

What's interesting is he refers to God as Creator. Why? Because he's trying to transport us all the way back to the beginning of the Bible at creation where everything was perfect and Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with God, where they saw God face-to-face and enjoyed his presence. Yet what happened is they rebelled against God, and because they rebelled against God, they were removed from the presence of God. They could no longer walk by sight. They had to walk by faith. Sin had broken into the picture and fractured our relationship with God.

Yet Jesus has come. He has come to repair that broken relationship each one of us has with God. He has come so we could begin to taste what life was like with God in the garden. That's why he says, "Remember also your Creator." He's saying, "Look. I want you to taste what Adam and Eve experienced at creation." You can experience nearness with God. You can experience his presence. You can experience intimacy and joy just being with him.

So, when he says, "Remember your Creator," what he's not saying is, "Hey, every Tuesday night, check in with God." No. What he's saying is, "Walk with him now. Passionately pursue him now. Enjoy him wholeheartedly now." "Do it now before the evil days and years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them.'" He's talking about getting old.

Then in verses 2-7, Solomon shares this poem about getting old. It's one long, run-on sentence. The idea is that if you were to read this thing straight through, you would be out of breath. The idea is that as your breath runs out, it's like the clock runs out on your life. Just watch what he says. "…before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain…" He's saying, "The older you get, the darker your days get."

One storm is going to hit your life, and just as that storm is passing, there are new clouds already coming in. The older you get, you get to a point where it's one health issue after the next, and you're going to doctors that you can't even pronounce the name of their "ologist." It's too hard to say. You're going to specialist after specialist, and you're going to way more funerals than you're going to weddings. You're burying more and more friends. He's like, "Don't wait until that day to start walking with God."

Then he goes on in verse 3. "…in the day when the keepers of the house tremble…" He's talking about your arms and your hands. A day is coming when your arms and hands are going to shake, and you don't want them to shake. My aunt is 92, and she jokes, because she has a tremor in her hand… She's like, "I can't hold a hamburger, because by the time it gets to my mouth, all of the fixings will be gone." It's a tremor she didn't ask for, but that's just a part of her being 92.

"…and the strong men are bent…" That's talking about your legs. The older you get, your legs get bent, and you begin to walk hunched over. "…and the grinders cease because they are few…" He's saying your teeth fall out. "…and those who look through the windows are dimmed…" Your eyesight begins to fade. It goes bad. Don't wait until then to finally start walking with Jesus. Verse 4: "…and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low…" That's talking about your ears, that you become more and more hard of hearing.

"…and one rises up at the sound of a bird…" That bird chirps once, and you're like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! What's happening? What's happening?" I was staying with my 92-year-old aunt at the beginning of this month. Do you know what she said? She wakes up at 3:30 in the morning because she can't sleep past 3:30. That's just her reality. She doesn't set an alarm. The older you get, the harder it is to sleep.

"…and all the daughters of song are brought low…" That's talking about the vocal cords that no longer have the elastic strength. Verse 5: "…they are afraid also of what is high…" It's like, "That's too high. Can you reach that for me? I'm kind of scared of what could happen, what I will pull just trying to reach for it." "…and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms…" Almond trees are pale in the springtime. This is talking about someone's hair, which has turned white with age.

"…the grasshopper drags itself along…" What an image. There's no spring in your step anymore. Just to walk is kind of a miserable process. Then he goes on. "…and desire fails…" It is so interesting that Solomon, the guy with hundreds of wives and concubines, is like, "In old age, even the thing I couldn't get enough of has finally dissipated. Even my sexual desire is gone," he's saying as an old man.

"…because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—before the silver cord is snapped…" He's describing a well from which you draw water. "…before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern…" What's his point? All of these things work together to draw up life-giving water. He's like, "The things that hold life-giving water are broken." It's like your body. You reach a point in life where your body is no longer capable of holding life and you die.

Verse 7: "…and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." And verse 8. This is the refrain he started the book with. "Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity." He's saying, "Look. Your life is so fleeting." I know you're in a stage of life where you feel like you're going to live forever and you're always going to have your strength, you're always going to be able to run a marathon, and you're always going to be able to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it.

That day is going to be so painful if you wait until that day where you can't function like you want to function to finally find Jesus. He's saying, "Don't waste your youth." There has never been a better time to walk with God. Walk with God now when you still have strength in your hands to serve people. Walk with God now while your legs still work well and you can go and be a messenger to the roughly three billion people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus.

Know Jesus now while you can still behold beautiful things. You can behold creation, and your heart can well up with joy at beholding all that God has created. While your vocal cords are still strong, worship Jesus now when you can sing at the top of your lungs. Today is the best day to wholeheartedly follow Jesus.

I just want to be clear with you. I just want to speak to you to make sure you know this is why you exist. You exist to know Jesus and to make him known. That's what the point and purpose of your life is. It all boils down to that. That's why Paul says in Colossians 1:16, "For by him **[Jesus] all things were created…"** Which is interesting, because Solomon in the Old Testament says, "Remember your Creator." Paul says, "Do you know who was involved in creation? Jesus."

"For by [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through [Jesus]and for [Jesus]." You were created for Jesus. The reason you exist is to know Jesus. I'll explain it this way. Some of y'all might have heard this before. I always have my iPhone with me onstage.

Why does the iPhone exist? The iPhone exists to put the world at your fingertips. You can see someone face-to-face, and you can have a conversation with anyone in the world without actually being in person. You can get a date without leaving your house. Just one swipe could change your life. The iPhone exists to put the world at your fingertips.

Now, you can live like the iPhone exists for a different purpose. Right? If the table is wobbly, you could jam your iPhone under there and be like, "Man! That works really well." Or you can flip it over on your coffee table and be like, "Man! This is a great coaster. I don't know if you've ever tried this, but it just works well as a coaster." You can use the iPhone for a different purpose, but it doesn't change the fact that the iPhone is most fully fulfilling the purpose for which it has been created when it is putting the world at your fingertips.

The same is true for you. You have been made to know Jesus. That is why you exist. You can live as if you exist for a different purpose. You can live as if you exist to be a millionaire by 30. You can live as if you exist to get a ring on your finger. You can live as if you exist to be the top person in your company or to run your own thing. You can live as if you exist to complete an Ironman Triathlon. You can live like that's why you exist, but it doesn't change the fact that you will be most fully alive and most fully functioning when you fulfill the purpose for which you've been created, which is to know Jesus Christ intimately.

I'll just say this. Do you want to know where regret is found? Regret is found in getting to 40 and still sitting in spiritual diapers because you've never taken the time to grow up in your faith, because you want to run to everything else because you think there's more life, more joy, and more satisfaction out there than there is with Jesus. So, if I could tell 24-year-old Timothy Ateek something, I would just say, "Look. Today is the best day to wholeheartedly follow Jesus."

  1. Your view of God determines your response to God. Hopefully you've heard me say that multiple times before, but I say that because Solomon brings it up. Your view of God determines your response to God. That is the single greatest truth I learned in my late 20s, as a young adult. I learned it right around the age of 29, and I wish that, at 29, I could have gone back to my 24-year-old self and said, "Look. Your view of God will determine your response to God, and that truth will change everything."

Solomon says right at the end of the book… Skip down to verse 13. "The end of the matter; all has been heard." He's saying, "This is what it all boils down to." Solomon, the wisest guy in the world, the wealthiest guy in the world, the guy who had probably had more sex than anyone else in the world, says, "Here's the end of the matter." "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." This is what life comes down to. It comes down to fearing God and keeping his commandments.

He says, "Fear God and keep his commandments…" Fear God talks about your view of God. What he's saying is, "Live with a right view of God." He says, "Keep his commandments." He's talking about your response to God. Have the right response to God. What I want you to learn at whatever age you're at right now is that the two go hand in hand. Your view of God will actually determine your response to God.

If you have a big view of God, you're going to have a big response to God. If you're sitting there right now, and you feel like you're having a small response to God… You wake up in the morning. You don't want to spend time with God. You feel too busy for God. When you show up here, you're not interested in worshiping him. Do you know what the problem is? You're having a small response because you have a small view. This is how all relationships work.

When you find a guy who is head over heels about a girl, he'll watch any Nicholas Sparks movie with her, and he's like, "It has a good plot." No, it doesn't. Do you know what has happened there? He has such a big view of the girl that he has a big response to her. What happens when that view of a person changes? You stop texting. You start ghosting. Why? Your view determines your response.

You know what? For so much of my young adult life, I lived under the banner of "This is what I should do spiritually. I should read my Bible. I should go to church. I should pray." Do you know why it was a bunch of "shoulds"? Do you want to know why it was a bunch of discipline without much delight? It was because I was trying to have a big response with a small view, and everything changed.

When I began to fight for the biggest view of God possible, it changed my response. Solomon says, "Fear God. Keep his commandments." That's what it all boils down to. So, my encouragement for you is to fight for the biggest view of God possible every day and watch what happens to your response.

  1. Never get over the gospel. Never get over the good news of Jesus Christ. Look at what verse 14 says. Solomon ends the whole book by saying, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." Then the book ends. That's it. He ends by saying, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." What a bad note to end on. It's so unsettling.

Someday you're going to stand before God, and everything you've ever thought, everything you've ever said, everything you've ever done is going to be revealed by God. The reason I would tell my younger self, "Never get over the gospel" is because, if you know Jesus Christ, you don't have to fear that day you stand before God. Why?

Because when you know Jesus Christ, when you understand what he has done for you on the cross, that his body was broken and his blood was shed on the cross to make payment for all of your sins, all of your imperfections, and when he rose from the dead it was a demonstration that he had taken care of all of your failures… When you know Jesus Christ in a personal way, all of your failures are cleansed. They are dealt with by Jesus. So, when you stand before God, the blood of Christ has washed you clean.

But not just that. The reason I say, "Never get over the gospel" is because, today, because of what Christ has done and because of faith in him, he has actually put his Spirit inside of you so you can live a life pleasing to God. So, when you stand before God, there are going to be plenty of things that are revealed that show how amazing and powerful the Spirit of God was working through you to make you more like Jesus.

Even now, in the moments when we fail, God's grace is sufficient. So, even when we fail, we can look to the cross and the empty tomb to know that Christ's death, Christ's burial, and Christ's resurrection are enough even for our failures today. Never get over the gospel.

Some of you are sitting there, saying, "I don't even have the chance to get over it because I've never truly understood it." So, I'd just say, if you are not a Christian, and you are here tonight, and you are understanding for the first time that when you stand before God, you don't just cross your fingers and hope for the best… Either you will stand before God and have to answer for your sin or you will stand before God and Jesus Christ will have already answered for it.

Your hope is either in Jesus or you're going to cross your fingers and hope for the best. I promise you… The Scripture is clear. Jesus says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus Christ's invitation to you tonight is to come, to give your life to him, and you can experience complete forgiveness for your sin tonight.

I'll close kind of where I started. I just want you to think. Ten years, 15 years, 20 years from now, you're going to look back to where you are right now in 2023. What if you could look back to this season of life and say, "I'm so glad that, in 2023, God gave me a new heart. In 2023, I cultivated my heart for the Lord, so I followed my heart because it was a heart that was aligned with God"?

What if you could say, "I embraced where God had me, and I'm so glad I did, because I didn't sit there in frustration. I just said yes to where God had me in 2023"? What if you could say, "That's when I really went for it. That's when I started wholeheartedly following Jesus, and I'm so glad I did"? What if you could say, "That's when I began fighting for the biggest view of God possible, and it has changed my response to him"?

What if you could look back and say, "That's when I really began to appreciate the gospel, not just as my ticket into heaven but as the way that heaven has been getting into me every day for 10, 15, 20 years"? May we be a people who walk wisely, where joy is maximized and unnecessary pain is minimized. Why? Because we know the King, Jesus Christ. Let's pray together.

If you're here tonight, and you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I don't want to miss an opportunity to give you a chance to pray, the way we express faith to God. Romans 10:9 says that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. So, I encourage you now to say, "Lord Jesus, would you come into my life tonight? Thank you, Jesus, that you died for me. Thank you that you rose from the dead for me. Would you come into my life? Would you forgive me of my sin? Would you begin to lead me in a new life?"

For the rest of us, what's God saying to you tonight? Maybe you're sitting there, and you're like, "Okay. This is it. This is the day. Today is finally the day I'm going to start wholeheartedly following Jesus." Maybe there are desires, motivations, and passions you know are not aligned with the Lord that you need to confess. Maybe your view of God is small and you want to say, "God, would you expand my view of you tonight?" Maybe you just want to say, "God, thank you for the good news of the gospel, that it's enough." Do business with the Lord now.

We love you, Lord. We thank you for all you've done. We respond to you now.