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Summary: A year’s end/New Year’s message adaptable to many occasions. BIG IDEA: "God’s got it, even though we don’t get it"

“Turn Turn Turn”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-17

INTRODUCTION: "End of Year" Lists are everywhere in the media as a new year approaches: Most Newsworthy Events of the Year, Famous People Who Have Died This Year, Most Notable Sports Stories of the Year, Most Annoying People of the Year (Paris, Britney, and everyone running for President in ’08).

These lists can be fun to read, but they don’t give perspective on life—how to make sense of it or how to live it. As we reflect on 2007 and anticipate 2008, what do we most need to understand? What perspective do we need?

[READ 3:1-8]

This beautiful and mysterious Hebrew poetry tells us that God has given an order and plan to life. In other words, as we reflect on the year past & look forward to the future,

I. GOD’S GOT IT (1-8, 11a)

A. God has ordered a time for everything in life

1. We live in an ordered universe, not a universe of chaos. The Teacher lists 14 extremes, and

a. Each one has its time

b. Each one is “appropriate” in its time

c. God’s cosmic Blackberry

2. There’s an ebb and flow in these verses, a rhythm of life’s events that sounds pleasing, even reassuring to us.

Yet, there are ...

B. Two disturbing implications:

1. We dance to a tune not of our own making—we aren’t in control!

a. EX: President of USA can’t control his own family

b. EX: Military general in old age relying on nurses

c. APPLICATION: Stop trying to control what you can’t!

2. Nothing we pursue has any permanence—nothing lasts!

a. The text stresses brevity & impermanence of our activities

b. EX: My former church no longer exists. "A time to plant & a time to uproot"

c. APP: Is what you’re giving your life to going to last?

1) How secure is your job, if you work outside the home?

2) How secure is your job, if you work inside the home?

a) Kids turn 18 & leave, or worse … they don’t leave!

b) (Maybe some things are permanent!)

II. GOD’S GOT IT, BUT WE DON’T GET IT (9-11)

A. We can’t understand what God is up to “from beginning to end.” We can’t see the big picture and discern His plans or His patterns. His purposes are outside our control and outside our comprehension.

1. God’s got it, even if we don’t get it. Life’s events are unfolding according to God’s plan. Life is leading somewhere. That’s important to remember, because

a. Without God, life has no meaning & I have no signficance

b. With God, life has purpose & meaning.

2. EX: Watching TV without an antenna vs. with an antenna

3. EX: Viewing a tapestry from the back side--it doesn’t make sense

B. Since God’s got it, life and history are going someplace. Not just a series of disordered, random events going in circles—it’s unfolding according to God’s design.

1. We understand creation, fall, redemption, Jesus’ return

2. We understand there’s a destination, so life has meaning!

>> So God’s got it—what does that mean for us as we look ahead to 2008?

III. SINCE GOD’S GOT IT, WE CAN ENJOY IT (12-13)

A. Enjoyment of life is a gift of God. He wants you to find satisfaction in your work and enjoyment in your life.

1. Enjoy life more—ever hear that growing up in church?

2. Rabbinical saying: God will hold us accountable for every permitted pleasure not taken.

3. Not carte blanche—we submit our enjoyment to what is good

4. Not everything in life is enjoyable.

B. APPLICATION: Do you enjoy your life? What would your spouse say? Your kids? Your coworkers? Your Life Group? Would you be on a list of People Who Most Enjoyed Life in 2007? What’s stopping you for 2008?

IV. SINCE GOD’S GOT IT, WE SHOULD LIVE INTO IT (14-15)

A. Only God provides the solution to the problem of permanence.

1. “Everything God does will endure forever” and He invites us to participate in what He is doing!

2. We think we have to do great things to achieve permanence, like building a great monument or a great company or a great family. But those things don’t last!

3. We don’t have to do grandiose awe-inspiring things—we only have to do what God wants us to do. And whatever God does will endure forever.

B. APPLICATION: What does God want you to do? What’s your calling? What has God taught you in 2007? What will be your focus for 2008? Maybe it won’t get you on any yearend lists, but if God’s in it, it’ll last.

V. SINCE GOD’S GOT IT, WE SHOULD STAY WITH IT TO THE END (16-17)

A. ILLUSTRATION: This past week our family went to see the movie “Enchanted,” which is a Disney musical/fantasy/romantic comedy. It’s about a princess who has to choose between two men to be her true love. 3/4 of the way through, my six-year-old son squirmed in his seat and whispered to me "this movie is boooooooorrrrrring. I want to go home." But I knew more about the movie than he did, and I whispered back to him to stay with it to the end. Very soon after that, there was a fight with a big dragon on a skyscraper, and he thought that was much cooler. He was glad he stayed with it to the end.

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